We spoke with Men’s Associate Footwear Buyer Tony R. about our newest footwear offering – Thorogood Boots. Read on to learn more about this iconic footwear brand.
Thorogood has been around since 1855. What’s their story?
It all started in 1855, when Peter Weinbrenner moved from Germany to Milwaukee and set up shop as a small time cobbler repairing boots and shoes. His son, Albert, followed in his father’s footsteps and started as an apprentice cobbler under his father in 1878.
At the young age of 27, Albert Weinbrenner teamed up with Joseph Pfeifer and opened up shop selling shoes and boots, specializing in work boots. In 1900, Weinbrenner and Pfeifer bought the Knoll Shoe Company in order to enter the shoe and boot manufacturing business. It was bought for only $1,500 and was called the Albert H. Weinbrenner Company. Back then, the Weinbrenner Company only made about 60 pairs per day. Jumping forward to 1905, Weinbrenner began nationwide distribution and increased their daily output to 2,500 pairs per day—and, as a result, moved to a larger facility.
The Thorogood brand wasn’t introduced until 1918, in response to the growing demand for specialized boots for various trades, in this case workwear. A pair of boots, in the first years of Thorogood, would set you back $7-$8, only costing about $4 wholesale. After 150 years, Weinbrenner is the largest “Made in the USA” footwear manufacturer. Thanks to patents for boot construction and material design, Thorogood is also a leading force in the boot market.
How did you discover Thorogood Boots?
I have to chalk that one up to my dad. My dad has been in construction his entire life and on top of that a member of the Laborers’ International Union of North America for as long as I can remember. He has always preached paying for quality and supporting Union Made. No matter if it’s shoveling snow or mowing the lawn, he’s in his boots. This is where my obsession over boots and the story that comes with them began—with my dad in his shorts wearing boots while mowing the lawn.
What makes Thorogood Boots not only a great style piece for fall, but a great value too?
The materials and attention to detail make these boots more than worth the money. You’re not just getting an amazing pair of boots here. You’re getting over 150 years of experience and practice going into each pair. It’s an investment into something you will own for years and years to come, that over time will fit and break in by the way you move.
You mention a few things in the video: Horween leather and a Goodyear Welt. Can you tell us a little bit more about those two things?
Horween is a tannery out of Chicago that was founded in 1905. They make all their leathers by hand the same way they were made generations ago.
Goodyear Welt refers to a traditional method of attaching the upper and insole of a shoe or boot to the bottom (sole) of the shoe. This process is named for the inventor of the machinery, Charles Goodyear. The benefit of this process is that the shoe or boot can be resoled repeatedly, greatly expanding its lifespan.