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Thursday Boot Co. Diplomat – Boot Review

High-end boot manufacturers like Alden, Viberg, and Dayton are well renowned for their history and construction, as well as their slim and classic stylings that straddle the line between serious work boot and sleek everyday wear. Their offerings, however, come at a cost of over $500. Many brands have attempted to copy the look at a lower price, but no one has tried to do so while maintaining many of the same construction details that make those boots worthwhile.

Enter Thursday Boot Co., a new footwear company that aims to deliver the same look, feel, and construction of the high-end manufacturers but at about 40% of the cost ($199 on pre-order). There’s obviously a market for this type of product as their Kickstarter campaign broke the opening day record for money raised by a fashion project. As with almost all crowd-funded pre-order projects, it’s easy to make promises and it’s hard to deliver. With Thursday’s lofty ambitions, many have been skeptical about what Thursday could actually produce.

I received a sample of Thursday’s mod-toe Diplomat model and have been assured that it’s exactly the same as the boots that will ship at the end of the campaign. After some thorough testing and deconstruction, the Diplomat shows Thursday can make a good-looking boot with decent construction but opted for immediate comfort over longevity.

Details

  • Name: Thursday Boot Co. Diplomat
  • Materials: Natural Chromexcel upper, studded rubber outsole
  • Welt: Goodyear
  • Unique Features:
    • EVA insole
    • Speedhooks
    • Leather interior lining
  • Available for Kickstarter pre-order for $199

Fit

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Thursday developed their own lasts for this first run of boots, the Diplomat uses an ergonomic last they call the “Foundation”, which is most analogous to the Trubalance last Alden uses on their Indy boots. They run true to size on a Brannock (I’m a 9D and it fit like one), a smart move on Thursday’s part as negotiating sizing returns across a massive pre-order sounds horrible.

I found the Diplomat to fit well right out of the box with minimal break-in and a relatively cushy ride. Much of the reason for the little break in time is due to a spongy EVA insole (similar to what you’d find in a running shoe) and the fact that they’re using a composite Celtec midsole instead of a leather one. These decisions may affect the boot’s lifespan–more on that later–but they make for a comfortable fit almost immediately. I was able to keep them on for ten hours on the very first wear, where most welted boots, for example, take me a few hours of break in at home before even considering a full day of wear.

The boots are also quite light. The pair of Diplomats weighed in at 3.1 pounds, compare that to 4.1 for my Iron Rangers and 3.6 for my Boondocker repros. That weight disparity probably comes from the Celtec midsole instead of going all leather, but even shaving a pound off of your feet makes a big difference in a full day of stomping around.

Styling

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Thursday’s Diplomat vs. Alden’s Indy. Image courtesy: The Shoe Mart

Thursday’s not going to win any points for originality here, the Diplomats bear a shameless similarity Alden Indy’s. I even found myself glancing down and thinking I had on Indy’s. This is by far the best Indy clone I’ve ever seen.

I unfortunately did not have a pair on hand for direct comparison but aside from the number of eyelets, the stitch across the quarter, and the closed heel–they’re practically identical in styling. This isn’t to chastise Thursday. Like making a five-pocket jean, it’s practically impossible to make a new boot in this market without making something really weird or copying someone well established, and there are a lot worse companies to crib from than Alden.

One of the biggest appeals of Thursday is that they are a non-chunky boot with a Goodyear welt on at the entry level price point. You would typically have to choose between one or the other:  a bulbous workwear boot with that’s decently constructed (Red Wing, Chippewa, Thorogood, Wolverine) or one with a slim silhouette but can barely last a few seasons (Frye, J. Crew). Thursday’s hoping to hit that sweet spot because you currently have to spend $500+ to get there.

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WWII Impressions Boondocker (left), Thursday Diplomat (center), and Red Wing Iron Ranger (right)

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So it’s not as slim as the Boondocker, but it’s definitely a lighter touch than the Iron Ranger.

Materials

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My sample was made with a natural Chromexcel upper from Horween. The leather itself was evenly skived, waxy, and had minimal pull up, no surprises for natty chromexcel. The clicking (the way the hide is cut for the upper), however, could be improved. There were a couple noticeable imperfections, both were on the interior section of the quarter.

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And there are these little red dots all over the leather. None of these issues cause structural problems, but it’s that attention to detail that separates out boots of a higher price level.

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The studded outsole seems like a cheaper version of Dainite, with softer and lighter rubber than Dainite’s licorice black neoprene. It has as admirable amount of traction, but feels like it will erode more quickly than Dainite.

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My most major annoyance with the boots as a whole has gotta be the speed hooks. Rule of thumb for all future boot makers–make sure your hooks are as wide as your laces! 

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Thursday uses a flat waxed lace, very nice, and the hooks and eyelets are made out of antiqued brass, looking good, but the opening of the hooks is less than half the width of the lace–not so awesome. This also means the laces are scrunched up at an odd angle against the inside of the hook so they will wear out more quickly. This is albeit a minor issue, but it quickly becomes frustrating when it takes three tries to lace them up.

(Update: Thursday says production laces will be 1/16th of an inch thinner than the ones I tested.)

Construction

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Thursday doesn’t produce their boots in the United States but in Leon, Mexico, the self-proclaimed cowboy boot capital of the world and where Pistolero and Yuketen supposedly do some of their production. The only QC error I found was a loose stitch connecting the quarter to the vamp, everything else was pretty clean.

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From the exterior you can see that the boots use a 360 degree Goodyear welt and have a full lambskin lining, but the only real way to measure the mettle of welted footwear is to have a look inside. So I cut one of them in half with a bandsaw–thanks Craftsman & Apprentice Denver!

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Below you can see the full sandwich of the interior of the boot, which goes top to bottom:

  1. Lambskin lining
  2. EVA insole
  3. Paperboard insole
  4. Synthetic heelpad
  5. Steel shank (thank God I missed that with the saw)
  6. Corkbed
  7. Celtec midsole
  8. Studded rubber outsole

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If you’ve ever wondered what a Goodyear welt looks like…

It’s quite a lot going on inside a very small space, especially when you compare it to something like this Red Wing moc toe, which only has a leather insole, cork bed, a midsole, and an outsole:

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Sliced Red Wing 8131. Image courtesy: Red Wing 1905

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is usually the mantra when it comes to this type of clothing but I’m guessing break-in time/out-of-box comfort was the factor Thursday was trying to fix by going synthetic. I’m not familiar enough with the synthetic materials they’re using to speak to their longevity. The only leather between your foot and the ground (besides the heel stack) is that thin layer of sheepskin on the insole.

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What really got the crunch here is the corkbed, which is only about a few millimeters thick. And I’m guessing that beneath the three layers of padded insole, it’s going to be difficult to actually form that cork to your foot.

While these boots feel great out of the box, I predict you’re not going to get the same molded-to-your-foot feeling that you get from boots with just leather and cork and require a hard break-in. I unfortunately can’t tell you if they do because I cut mine in half.

Conclusion

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To sum up, we’ve got a boot that’s feels great out of the box, is a near dead ringer for an Alden Indy, is decently constructed but may not have the longevity of the more traditionally made boots, and is under $200. While this boot passes muster with me, you also have to factor in the difficulties to get it into your hands.

Kickstarter means you’re buying them sight unseen, you can’t return them (Thursday promises exchanges), and although they’re predict delivery within three weeks of the campaign’s end date remember that it took Gustin over three months to ship all their Kickstarter jeans and they’d already been in the business for years. (Update: Thursday will accept returns of boots in good condition and has already entered production for the Kickstarter run–this bodes well for the three week delivery time.)

So who exactly is this boot for? If you’re someone who wants the “full heritage experience” and old world materials, then this isn’t for you. But if you’re just getting into Goodyear welted footwear and you’re ambivalent about the history and narrative behind your shoes, then this is an easy introduction. It looks good, wears like a sneaker, and should last a good while.