Shoes and boots are often worn to make a big fashion statement, as the chunky platforms and stiletto pumps of Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, and Jimmy Choo so amply show. But shoes have another purpose—to help their wearer get a job done, comfortably and safely.

In particular, boots have long been put to work. Some of the first work boots were 19th-century cowboy boots, which were modeled after boots worn by the Hessian soldiers who fought with the British during the Revolutionary War. These boots were distinctive for their V cut in the front and pull-straps on the side.

By the 1880s, more than 100 companies in Kansas were making boots for Texas cowboys. In Texas, Justin Boots was probably the best-known name. Long before it gobbled up Nocona Boot Company, Chippewa, and Tony Lama, Justin was making boots for ranchers, as well as six- to eight-inch lace ups for workers in other fields.

Wolverine got started around the same time. Established in Rockford, Michigan in 1883, Wolverine made a name for itself in 1914 with its six-inch lace-up 1000 Mile boot. During World War I, Wolverine made boots based on this model for the military—they're now sold in the company’s Garrison line. But Wolverine boots are not all work and no play—at the 2010 Winter Olympics, U.S. snowboarder Shaun White was seen stomping around in a pair of 1000 Mile boots following his gold-medal halfpipe win.

Red Wing came next in 1905, when Charles Beckman sold his first pair of boots for $1.75. Based in Red Wing, Minnesota, also home to Red Wing Stoneware Co., by 1907 the company was producing 100 pairs of shoes per day, and by World War I it was making countless No. 16 boots for U.S. soldiers. In fact, Red Wing has a long history of supplying work boots and shoes to the military—in World War II, it produced boots in 239 sizes and widths just for the U.S. Army.

Wesco came next in 1918. Based in Scappoose, Oregon, the West Coast Shoe Company was founded by John Henry Shoemaker (yes, that’s his real last name), and is still run by members of the Shoemaker family. Naturally, logging boots with spiked soles were the company’s first focus. In the 1930s, shipworkers favored Wesco’s boots, and by the end of that decade, Wesco favorites such as the Highliner, Jobmaster, and Boss had been introduced. More recently, Wesco has concentrated on non-conductive safety boots, including the Voltfoe.

One other bookmaker of note is Danner, which appeared on the scene in 1932, moving from Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin to Portland, Oregon. Its Shipyard Boot was a mainstay for blue-collar workers in the 1950s and ’60s, when Danner began making boots for policemen and military personnel, as well as hunters and hikers.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

The Black Tie Guide

The Black Tie Guide

Peter Marshall became an authority on formalwear out of necessity — he needed a tux to wear on the maiden transat… [read review or visit site]

All About Shoes

All About Shoes

From Canada's Bata Shoe Museum comes a visually impressive exhibit focusing on the history of the shoe from traditi… [read review or visit site]

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

Fashion Columbia Study Collection

The Fashion Columbia Study Collection (FCSC) is the digital home of the Columbia College Chicago’s fashion archiv… [read review or visit site]

Virtual Shoe Museum

Virtual Shoe Museum

This virtual museum from Shoe Icons Publishing showcases over 800 pairs of shoes and related reference information.… [read review or visit site]



Most watched eBay auctions    

Yuketen Boots 9 D - Quoddy Moccasin Alden Ox Blood Red Wing Shoes Post O AllsRed Wing 8113 Iron Ranger Boots Visvim Virgil Muleskinner Hawthorne Heritage 6"Red Wing Shoes Usa Made Mens 8.5 D Short Brown Leather Chukka Heritage Boots / Used Brown Frye Lace Up Hiking Work Boots Made In Usa Size 7.5Men's Brown Leather Red Wing 4183 Chukka Moc Toe Boots Sz Us 10 D Made In UsaSorel Caribou Boots Winter Waterproof Snow Work Canada Kaufman Lined Men Sz 12Red Wing Boots - Iron Ranger - 10.5dRed Wing 1907 Moc Toe Copper Boots Size 11 Mens Red Wing Redwing Moc Toe Red 8131 Irish Setter 6 Inch Work / Hiking BootsMens Brown Hiking/work Timberland Boots Size 7Red Wing Boots Heritage Round Toe Leather Copper 9111 Size 8.5dMens Ariat Square Toe Leather Ranch Work Cowboy Boots Sz 10 DMens Justin Brown Leather Rancher/cowboy/western Work Steel Toe Boots Sz 12 DRed Wing Classic Moc Toe 877 Boots 8" Us 11 Great Condition!!Red Wing 3140 Chukka Heritage Work Boots 10ee Usa Leather Desert Visvim Supreme Ll Bean~boots~women 8~winter~snow~waterproof~duck~work~shoe~insulated~sport~huntMen Us Shoe Size 10 D Red Wing Work Irish Setter Boots 4583 Leather Solid BrownVintage Red Wing Irish Setter Moc Toe Crepe Sole Boots Hunting Work 8.5 EeVintage 20's-30's Bowery Boots Brown Kid Leather Cap Toe Depression Era Work 8Mens Ariat Workhog Wide Square Toe H2o St Leather Work Boots 11.5 D ~ ExcellentInstock John Deere Jd5222 Men's Tan And Black Western Work Boots 10.5 WRed Wing Engineer Boots 2990 Worn OnceDanner Mens Quarry Usa 8" Black Goretex Waterproof Work Boots Shoes Size 11 EeMens Herman Survivors Brown Leather Rancher/cowboy/western Work Boots Sz 11Red Wing Moc Toe 1907 Boots Size 8.5Vintage Red Wing Irish Setter Boots Sz 10.5Vintage Red Wing U.s.a. Romeo Brown Leather Slip-on Loafer Ankle Boots Size 9Danner Sz 11 Gore-tex Leather Work Boots 600 Gram InsulatedUnder Armour Valsetz Mens Size 13 Tactical Work Ankle High Boots, Shoes. No Zip Men Winter Cold Diamond Butte Sorel Kaufman Lined Safety Steel Toe Work Boots 11Dansko Womens Us 9 Eu40 Black Leather Slip On Stapled Clogs Dress Work ShoesRed Wing Brouge Ranger Heritage Mens Boots, Black Leather, Size Us 10Red Wings 83801 Irish Setter Mens 8" Lace Up Brown Work Boots Size 10.5 DTimberland Pro Series Comfort Suspension Work Men's 13 M Usa Ankle Leather BootsMens Justin Waterproof Work Leather Brown Boots Size 10.5 DJustin Boots Wk4961 Mens Size 11 D Brown Leather Water Proof Work BootsRed Wings 83801 Irish Setter Mens 8" Lace Up Brown Work Boots Size 9.5 DMen's Size 14 / 15 Winter / Snow / Snowmobile / Work Boots. Worn Once. Must SeeInstock John Deere Jd5222 Men's Tan And Black Western Work Boots 11 WRed Wing Heritage 9176 Wabasha Chukka Boots Size 10.5 EMen's Timberland Pro Wildcard Composite Toe Black Work And Safety Shoes 87594Red Wing Heritage 8173 Size 7.5d Boots 08173 Beckman Red Wing 2401 Mens 6" Aluminum Toe Brown Boots Size 12 E2Rocky Ranger Gortex Camo Hunting Hiking Work Winter Boots Men Sz 8d MSorel Maverick Men 14 Insulated Brown Leather/rubber Hunting Work Logger BootsVtg Danner 8" Quarry 2.0 Gore-tex Black Leather Work Men's 12 D Steel Toe Boots Red Wing Shoes - Mens Size 12 W - Vibram Boots Brown Yuketen Oak Street Quoddy Vintage Red Wing Leather Black Motorcycle Boots. 12d Buckle Biker Usa. Rare!Mens Size 10 Red Wing Steel Toe Black Work BootsJustin 760 Mens Original Lace-up Work Boots - Aged Bark Size 9.5 EeTimberland Pro Warrick Smelter 10" Safety Toe Work Boots Casual Size 10.5mJustin Wk4646 Mens Hybred Brown 13" Work Boots Size 12 DMen's Shoes Us Size 10 E Red Wing Ankle Boot Distressed Leather Solid BrownInstock John Deere Jd5222 Men's Tan And Black Western Work Boots 9.5 MRed Wing Irish Setter Men's 11.5d Men's Brown 8in. Lace Up Soft Toe Boots 83809Dr. Martens Women's Fx St 12784201 Steel Toe Work Boots Slip Oil Rest Size 11Red Wing Chukka Boots - Brooks Brothers Collaboration - Size 13Red Wing Iron Ranger Boots Worn Beautiful D Us 9.5 Uk 8.5 Eur 42 Cm 27Mens Ariat Max Workhog Pull On Ct Tan Leather Work Boots Sz 8 Ee ~ ExcellentInstock John Deere Jd5222 Men's Tan And Black Western Work Boots 9 W