In the world of fashion, which we are admittedly somehow part of, obsolescence is a very central driving force that constantly creates needs for something new. And when that ‘new’ has to be something that’s actually old it can get complicated and difficult to keep discovering brands. Thorogood boots has been supplying American workers with withstanding and innovative footwear for almost a century, the company producing the boots has been in business even longer. Now they’ve found their way onto the feet of the urban denim loving “worker” as well.
Thorogood boots are made by the Weinbrenner Shoe Company that has been both a leading manufacturer and a pioneering force in the American footwear industry since beginning operations in 1892. Weinbrenner Shoe Company’s dedication to craftsmanship, expertise, and innovations continues today. The company has initiated many of the safety and job-fitted design elements that are common today and you actually find most of them on these heritage and unionised all-made-in-the-US boots. Weinbrenner is actually one of America’s largest manufacturers of “Made In USA” footwear with over 125 styles.
The history of company stretches back to 1855 when Peter Weinbrenner, a German immigrant, began repairing boots and shoes from a small cobbler’s shop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1878 his son Albert followed his father’s trade when at the age of 13 he started as an apprentice cobbler repairing outsoles. The Weinbrenner company was founded in 1892 when Albert Weinbrenner, together with his business partner Joseph Pfeifer, opened the cobblery “Weinbrenner and Pfeifer” repairing and selling boots and shoes out of a storefront at 140 West Water Street in Milwaukee.
Eight years later the two partners decided to go into manufacturing and, in 1900, they purchased the Knoll Shoe Company for $1,500 and renamed the company “Albert H. Weinbrenner Company.” After only five years the company’s products were distributed nationally to workers across America. During WWI in 1917 the ”Job-fitted” design was introduced in recognition of the diverse needs of the different work trades. Work boot styles began to appear specifically designed for miners, oil riggers, lineman, foundry workers and steelworkers and in 1918 the Thorogood brand of work boots is introduced. By 1936 the company headquarters were moved to Merrill, Wisconsin where the third Weinbrenner factory was opened.
With the American participation in WWII all production was dedicated to the national war effort, and as mentioned above Weinbrenner still manufacturers military “issue” boots for the United States Armed Forces. 1941 also saw the introduction of the Neo-Cord outsole that was designed to protect workers from the harms of oil, sulfuric and lactic acids, and the following year Weinbrenner presented the first safety toe work boot, which was influenced by the designs required for the military during World War II. The union has been an integral partner for Weinbrenner and in 1943 the manufacturing plants were organised by the International Boot and Shoe Workers Union. After the war in 1950 the style #633 was introduced as a premium job-fitted roofer boot with lace-to-toe secure-fit contruction – it remains part of the Weinbrenner product line till this day.
Last year Weinbrenner introduced the Made in USA Thorogood MaxWear Wedge outsole that will last 20-30% longer compared to similar designs. The MaxWear also provides the safety, lightweight flexibility, and slip resisiting qualities you know from your regular wedge outsoles.
Beside the heritage Thorogood Work brand Weinbrenner also offers the slightly more updated and contemporary WorkOne Industrial brand and the firefighters first choice of boots, Thorogood Hellfire. Similar to the Thorogood Work boots, all WorkOne Industrial shoes are proudly all made in USA ever since the introduction in 1954.