WORDS BY SOFIA HAAN
Red Wing boots have been a staple of comfort and durability for generations. Now, through a partnership with a team of designers at Juxtaposition Arts (JXTA), these shoes represent the creativity and collaboration of the next generation of artists. In a special project released mid-January, Red Wing Heritage and JXTA students created a small-batch capsule collection of their own take on the classic boot design.
The collaboration stems from deep connections between Red Wing and JXTA, the North Minneapolis–based, Black-led arts-and-design organization. Aaron Seymour-Anderson, Red Wing’s head of brand and creative, was Inspired by his experiences working as an apprentice at JXTA at 16 years old, so he worked with JXTA co-founder Roger Cummings to form a partnership that could provide the next generation of apprentices with opportunities to bring their art skills to life. One of the apprentices is Essence Enwere, a Minneapolis-based artist, graphic designer, and freelancer.
“In the beginning, they wanted to feel out our ideas as individuals,” Enwere says. “Then, we had several meetings where we came together and we started solidifying what we wanted the look to be. We wanted this to be an homage to JXTA and respect Red Wing’s heritage and what they’ve done for the world of boots and fashion. The boot became a blend between the two of us.”
Enwere and four other apprentices worked closely alongside Red Wing designers, marketers, and creatives throughout the monthslong design process, which included a boot and a hoodie. “It felt like genuine collaboration because it was 50/50,” they say. “I felt like our experiences as JXTA apprentices were valued, and they brought in the experience of how to market [the boot] and do an ad campaign….it was great to understand the expertise that goes into a full production and they allowed us to explore creatively with one of their boots.” The collaboration produced 50 pairs of boots and hoodies featuring graphic designs by participating apprentices.
If you’re looking to purchase your own pair of JXTA Red Wing boots, you’re out of luck—both the shoes and the hoodies sold out in less than five minutes upon their release, with 100 percent of the proceeds funding JXTA’s educational programs. But while the collection may be sold out, original art inspired by the collaboration can be seen on billboards scattered throughout the Cities through mid-February.
“Our billboards are meant to be a citywide art gallery. It’s not so much advertising space, but more spreading throughout the city to offer public art,” says Enwere. A tour guide of locations of the billboards is available on Red Wing’s website.
Enwere says this collaboration is beneficial for the creative futures of the apprentices. “We got to explore the avenues that we have never talked about before, and see production that we’ve never seen. [JXTA] is a community of people willing to create and curate really talented and powerful artists in the world. Look out for us.”
Show Your Support
Hire JXTA artists: juxtapositionarts.org/hire/
Visit JXTALabs: 1808 Emerson Ave. N., Mpls.
Hire Essence Enwere for freelance typography and graphic design: essenceenwere.myportfolio.com/