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Red Wing Shoes You Can Only Find in Japan (at the Moment)

red-wing-japan-1930s-oxford

Image via Webstagram

Japan just seems to do it better. Whether it’s food, pens, ceramics, or blue jeans the Japanese have dedicated themselves to making the best possible version. And even when it comes to American goods, many have agreed that Japan simply does Americana better than America. Still, if you want the real deal, you can’t get more authentic than buying from the American brands themselves. The Japanese consumer knows this and that desire for authentic Americana, coupled with the overall more discerning taste level, means that American brands will produce rare and exclusive products just for the Japanese market.

Among these brands, Red Wing releases Japan-exclusive models each year that elicit envy and salivation in diehard fans. Notoriously difficult to access without a proxy, plane ticket, or a helpful Red Wing employee, these (mostly) Japan-only boots are often niche combinations of materials and silhouettes that have been deemed un-marketable for the general U.S. consumer.

Today we’re showing you which ones you can’t readily find in stores. And while these lines can change from season to season and certain U.S. retailers can occasionally secure a run, it’s pretty safe to say that these won’t be hitting our country en masse any time soon.

Flat Box Beckman

Only-in-Japan-Red-Wing-Shoes-Flat-Box-Beckman.-Image-via-Grownandsewn.

Flat Box Beckman. Image via Grownandsewn.

Though Red Wing is much lauded for the strength of its product, the brand isn’t especially well known for subtlety or delicacy in its design. Often, its boots are chunky and functional, forgoing dandy details to remain historically authentic. The Flat Box Beckman, however, takes a deal of that chunkiness out of the design. While Red Wing is often known for its bulbous toe boxes, the flat box Beckman takes the oldest Red Wing design and streamlines it ever so slightly.

By removing the toe puff, a piece of material placed at the toe box between the upper and the lining to give the toe structure and stiffness, the boot has a lower profile and as it breaks in, gets even slimmer. This is also known as an unstructured toe box. It has everything you want from a Red Wing boot with a little extra sophistication and though select retailers have carried it, usually in the teacore Black Klondike leather, these are only available in Japan.

Available from Red Wing Japan.

Mil-1 Congress Boot

Only-in-Japan-Red-Wing-Shoes Mil 1 Congress Boots. Image via Red Wing Singapore.

The Congress Boot is a little bit of a leap for Red Wing Heritage, who typically reproduce famous models from the company’s archives. Unlike most of the other boots you’ll see here, these don’t seem to be an archival style. These elasticated boots clearly take cues from that classic piece of English shoemaking, the Chelsea boot, which Red Wing’s historians assert may not be quite as English as previously thought. It would be hard to prove that the elasticated boot was invented in America, but it’s not so hard to prove their popularity among the stylish American set. Red Wing has called them the Congress Boots because as early as the mid-1800s, these dandy ‘lil shoes were popular among legislative circles.

Available from Red Wing Japan.

Caverly Chukka

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Image via Streething

Somewhat like the Congress Boot, the Caverly Chukka is a dressier reproduction of a boot that may or may not have ever been made by Red Wing. And also like the Congress Boot, the Caverly channels the spirit of the era’s footwear into a piece that is still palatable to modern consumers. The chukka, as a concept, sort of fudges the line between boot and shoe, which Red Wing tries to highlight with the Caverly. Back in 1905, at at the company’s founding, the lines were really blurred between footwear for dress and work and this just channels that.

Available from Red Wing Japan.

1920s Outing Boots

Only-in-Japan-Red-Wing-Shoes-1920s-Outing-Boots.-Image-via-Pronto

1920s Outing Boots. Image via Pronto

Some of the most extravagant of the made-in-Japan designs, the 1920s Outing Boot is an actual archival Red Wing design. In a world pre-sneaker-domination, where most boots were rather heavy-duty, you needed something if you wanted to get outside and move and run. Unfortunately for most people, your best option was the above Outing Boot. Made of a lightweight leather, they’re made to be moved and played in, although they’ll feel far heavier than the shoes like the Chuck Taylor that eventually superseded them. Traditionally the soles were a light layer of leather or rubber, but the modern repro uses the Grocord soles that are popular in this collection. Roomier around the toe and super secure with laces almost to the toe, these are pretty unique.

Available from Red Wing Japan.

1930s Sport Oxford

Only-in-Japan-Red-Wing-Shoes-1930s-Sport-Oxford.-Image-via-Red-Wing-Singapore.

1930s Sport Oxford. Image via Red Wing Singapore.

Returning to the archives yet again, we have the 1930s Sport Oxford. This shoe, like the Outing Boots, predate the proliferation of sneakers and had to serve as a versatile option for people out and about in the world. Its high-grip sole and low toe box make for a shoe that is functional without being too chunky and can work in any number of situations and with any number of outfits. The resulting shoe is slightly nimbler and more elegant than any of the Oxfords in the U.S.A. line, one not to be missed if you happen to be in Japan (or Singapore).

Available from Red Wing Japan.

Romeo Boot

Only-in-Japan-Red-Wing-Shoes-Romeo-Boot.-Image-via-Rakuten.

Romeo Boot. Image via Rakuten.

A shorter elasticated boot, Red Wing Japan claims the nomenclature for the “Romeo” Boot is unclear. Regardless, Red Wing has been making these boots since 1934, although the early models had a rubber heel and a leather sole, not the white crepe version you see above. Called a “Service Oxford” at the time of its release, it was popular with workers.

Somehow this groovy little boot is never in the main U.S. Red Wing line, save for select shops like Snake Oil Provisions. Much to our collective jealousy.

Available from Red Wing Japan.

Pecos

Only-in-Japan-Red-Wing-Shoes-Pecos-8845.-Image-via-Rakuten.

Pecos 8845. Image via Rakuten.

The Pecos is a mainstay of the Red Wing collection, but versions that make it to the States are variations or watered-down versions (although it appears none are currently available on the U.S. site). The classic canted heel of the true Pecos can only be had in Japan. Though they occasionally show up at choice American retailers, the majority of American Pecos boots you see have the lower roper heel and wider shaft. These, however, are something special. With the higher heel and the thinner shaft, these go great under jeans and are the perfect way to flesh out your Urban Cowboy aesthetic.

Available from Red Wing Japan.

The Engineer

Only-in-Japan-Red-Wing-Shoes-Red-Wing-Engineer.-Image-via-Rakuten.

Red Wing Engineer. Image via Rakuten.

No other market embraced the Red Wing engineer boot quite like Japan. The black Engineer boots made iconic by the likes of Marlon Brando and other iconic bad boys never really hit it off in the U.S. mainstream. These models have traditionally been of the higher-heeled variety and the U.S. Engineers from past seasons have been lower-heeled and wider-shafted. You can get them with steel toes or without, but they’re made just as Engineers have since 1936. In great materials like the iconic black klondike or a tan roughout leather, these were the boots that made the Red Wing name in the Japanese market. And okay sure, you can actually get these from a Red Wing dealer in Europe. But, the American site is fresh out of this version in the coveted black klondike leather.

Available from Red Wing Japan.