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Thursday Boots – From Business School to Bootmaking

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Out the door, Thursday Boots started their journey intending to solve the issue of making a stylish boot out of quality components in a price range that fit into their college budget. In the end, that’s ultimately what they got, but the path wasn’t exactly straight and narrow.

Co-founders Nolan Walsh and Connor Wilson were on their way to earning business degrees at Columbia University when they grew frustrated with the boot landscape. A college budget restricted them to boots that couldn’t hold up in the longterm, and boots of higher quality remained out of reach.

Unbeknownst to them, the first step forward in calming their footwear frustrations would be during a surf trip to Nicaragua. Nolan and Connor had a chance encounter with one of the locals who was wearing a pair of boots that caught their attention. Compelled to ask the man about his boots, they found themselves spending two weeks in Guatemala to learn everything they could about bootmaking — at least everything they could learn in that short of a timespan.

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Upon returning to New York, their entrepreneurial spirit motivated them to cold call anyone and everyone who was willing to listen and point them in the right direction. Thankfully, a handful of industry insiders including those at Vibram and Horween lent their ears and guided the duo along their way. When they finally made their first production-ready sample, after endless trial and error, finding the right factory was the next step.

They’d learned of the extensive bootmaking history in Léon, Mexico and took a flight there to find one of the factories that they continue to use today. Though many brands obscure their production abroad, Thursday holds up their factories in full transparency and hides nothing. They also ensure that every one of their partners meets not only their standards of quality, but their standard of ethics.

That may whittle down the options, but it’s integral to Thursday’s process. They’ve since expanded to a total of 4 factories and each one has been around for several decades. Most of them have even been sewing boots for storied companies like Red Wing, Wolverine, and Luchesse.

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The story with León doesn’t end with the bootmakers, though. When sourcing their leather, the team at Thursday sought out USA Tier 1 hides. This ensured that they’d be using the best quality hides at the highest ethical standards. After surveying dozens of tanneries, they narrowed their options down to just two in the Western hemisphere who were able to meet the level of quality and ethical standards: Horween in Chicago and Le Farc in León. They chose to keep the leather close to their sewers, and moved forward with the gold rated and EcoSure certified Le Farc and, through experimentation, ended up with their proprietary leather which they call Thursday Chrome.

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But, just because you’ve found the factories that can do quality work doesn’t mean you’re done. Working through their own naïvety, Thursday’s had to develop their intimate relationship with each one of their factories to get their product up to snuff.

That means training each one of their factories to meet the learning curve when making a new style. As far as startup companies are concerned, that can spell out a laundry list of problems and barriers to overcome. But it also provides some unique advantages. In Thursday’s case, their small team is able to be closer to the ground and more hands on. This translates to a tighter level of control and a higher quality product in the end.

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As the fashion industry tries to step away from the long held binary cycle, Thursday‘s quick to anticipate and closely follow its footsteps. Each season, many brands will place bulk orders with their factories. This can be a nice chunk of change for the factories involved. But the time between seasons can get slow. Instead, Thursday places smaller orders with more frequency. This method of production leads to less waste, more consistent work for factories, and better quality control.

Today, their most popular styles are the ones that got them out the door in the beginning. The Captain and the President models draw on classic boot styles that have endured generations. And though these styles remain purposefully understated, their prices certainly put a pep in many people’s steps. With custom components, full-grain leather, and Goodyear welted construction at just under $200, it’s enough to get most guys to dip their toes into welted footwear.

What started as a surf trip would eventually lead to a rabbit hole which Thursday‘s founders continue to explore. Their naïvety paired well with their tenacity, and it’s only helped them in the process. Though they did find the answers they were looking for, their journey still continues.

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For more information on Thursday Boots and their footwear, head over to their website.