Thorogood Boot and Weinbrenner Shoe Co. – Profile, History, and Iconic Models
Thorogood is an American workboot brand and the best known subsidiary of Wisconsin footwear company, the Weinbrenner Shoe Co. Since 1892, Weinbrenner has been at the forefront of workboot and innovation both on and off the job-site.
Thorogood’s History and Philosophy
The roots of Weinbrenner stretch back to 1855, when German immigrant Peter Weinbrenner set up shop as a shoe cobbler in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Peter’s son Albert, though had an entrepreneur spirit to expand the family name. After a few years of apprenticing under his father, Albert opened a storefront that sold boots and shoes in 1892. His ambitions didn’t stop there though, in 1900 he purchased a local shoe manufacturer in order to produce his own line.
Production started small with a modest 60 pairs produced per day, but grew to a whopping 8,000 per day by 1915. Such expansion came at a cost, as Weinbrenner moved to bigger and bigger factories to increase output, his workers demanded better working conditions. Weinbrenner capitulated and reduced the standard workday from 10 to 9 hours without reducing pay. The workers met the offer and production maintained at the same levels despite less time.
Weinbrenner debuted the Thorogood line of workboots in 1918. The philosophy behind the brand was simple but radical at the time. Every job had specific demands and environments, so every job needed its own specialized footwear to match. Thorogood produced specially designed footwear for miners, oil-workers, railworkers and even one designed for American troops in World War I. Thorogood was an instant success and Weinbrenner continued to expand and innovate, creating new advances like the first safety-toed workboot in 1943.
Today, Weinbrenner and Thorogood produce nearly 250 different models of work and safety boots. The company is still based out of their founding home of Wisconsin, but have moved slightly further north to the city of Merrill.
Weinbrenner is also the largest manufacturer of Made in USA footwear, with the majority of their production coming from two company owned factories in Merrill and Marshfield, Wisconsin. Nearly all of their products bear a small woven “Made in USA” flag stitched into the seam between the vamp and the front quarter and the Thorogood logo branded on the heel.
Construction and Iconic Models
Thorogood’s most recognizable models come in many colors, heights, and leathers and often have the option for a safety reinforced toebox.
The majority of their offerings are constructed with:
- Wedge sole
- 360 degree Goodyear Storm welt for increased waterproofing
- Fiberglass shank
- Cork molding layer
- Synthetic EVA footbed
- Triple-stitched upper
- Combination eyelets and speedhooks
Thorogood’s most common silhouettes include:
Lace-to-Toe Roofer’s Boot
The Lace-to-Toe Roofer’s boot was introduced in 1950 and has remained pretty much unchanged ever since. Roofing required a shoe with grip and that maintained rigidity throughout the foot, hence the extended laces that go all the way to the front of the boot. This design also shifted the rest of the design forward so the vamp extends throughout the entire shoe. That large of a piece of leather, however, left it more exposed and vulnerable to damage so Thorogood included a double layer of leather that’s triple-stitched and reinforced with rivets.
Available for $180 at Midwest Boots.
6″ Moc Toe
Arguably the most iconic Thorogood model though debuted in 1964, the Hike ‘n Camp, a wedge soled 6-inch moc-toe boot. The Hike ‘n Camp became the official boot of the Boy Scouts but was quickly adopted by construction workers and can still be found on job sites all across the world. Today, they call it simply the 6″ Moc Toe.
Available for $175 from Zappos.
Thorogood 1892 Dodgeville
Thorogood also recently launched their own high-end heritage collection called 1892. This line uses higher quality leathers and references designs from earlier in the company’s history. See our full review of their Dodgeville model.
Available for $263 at Huckberry.
For more information, visit Thorogood and Weinbrenner’s website. Lead image via Merrill Foto News.