*These boots were sent to me by a friend who wore them lightly before giving them to me. They were from late 2017-early 2018. I was also contacted by Conner from Thursday a few days after the review was released. I am happy to give a right to reply and I have included his comments inside of asterisks throughout the review to distinguish them from my own experience and opinions.*
Oh, Thursday boots, what an interesting company you are. I would say they’re controversial, but that would imply that there is widespread, sometimes vehement disagreement about them, but in reality, there is not. Unlike brands like Viberg and John Lofgren, there aren’t many direct arguments going on with these boots. Most people who are serious hobbyists range from being ambivalent toward Thursday to being vehemently against them, but none that I have spoken to actually love the boots. There are certainly people who are happy with their Thursday boots, but none of these are serious heritage menswear hobbyists in my experience. The brand does seem to sell quite a lot of boots, though, so why do enthusiasts ignore or dislike them so much?
There are two main reasons that the more serious denim heads dislike Thursday so much. Firstly, the majority of their boots are made in Mexico. This is not inherently bad, but is made worse in the minds of many by the fact that Thursday is an American company. In turn, this means that their Mexican production is a form of outsourcing, something that the heritage menswear community is generally against as a rule even though there are other companies in this scene that also do it. The other reason people dislike Thursday so much is their marketing tactics. In comparison to other hobbies, heritage menswear clothing is less congested with the disingenuous, manipulative marketing tactics that so many companies use these days, though it is not absent of it.
However, Thursday does engage in marketing that some find distasteful in this scene such as their giving buckets of boots to influencers who do not state that their pictures are ads and using phrases like “handcrafted with integrity” which hides the fact that their boots are made in Mexico. In fact, they’re boots are stamped with another inane phrase of “Handmade in small batches” rather than the more accurate“Made in Mexico” stamp they should have. *Thursday has informed me that they will be removing this stamp and putting a different one in soon, which I am happy to hear.* Thursday does also produce some models in the USA, but these boots were not. Still, their boots are well known and I have wanted to see what the hype was about for quite some time now, so let’s see what’s what.
What I have is a pair of Thursday Captain boots in brown Thursday Chrome leather. This is a leather developed by Thursday that is clearly inspired by Horween’s Chromexcel leather and I will discuss this later. Thursday recommends sizing down by one half from your brannock size and my experience backs this up. If you are a 10.5 on a brannock, you should probably go for a 10.
These boots are lined with bovine leather, have flat waxed cotton laces, reinforced eyelets, Poron insole, duraEVA comfort strip, and are 360 degree Goodyear welted. Some of this may look very familiar to you depending on what your boot background is. A lot of people reading this will be absolute boot nerds like me and thus the only weird aspects are the Poron insole and duraEVA comfort strip. Thursday is interesting in that they straddle the line between the heritage menswear/denim community and the general menswear and men’s fashion world.
I am going to assume that people reading this review come from various levels of boot interest so I will attempt to discuss each aspect of these boots from both a more serious and a more novice or casual angle. While I currently am a boot enthusiast, I still remember roughly how I was and how I thought when I was less into this style niche and was newer too boots.
Design and Appearance:
Let’s start off with the most subjective aspect of the boots, the appearance. From a more casual or fashion-oriented perspective, I think these boots look quite good. They look more rugged than more fashion-oriented boots either from brands like YSL or from fast fashion houses such as Topman or Zara. However, they are not as bulky as Red Wings or most models from Pacific Northwest makers. For people who are newer or completely new to boots, I feel that this is a really nice balance. Me from 10 years ago would have really liked how these boots look. The current me does not love the way these boots look, however.
They are as perfectly generic as a midwest politician. This is not necessarily an insult. For the audience that Thursday is going for, this works. For people that already have done any research into boots, there is nothing distinctive about them. This is of course, completely subjective. I do not actually believe that these boots are poorly designed. I simply can see that these boots were designed for an audience who like Anchorman and I’m in a different theater watching Spirited Away.
Materials – Upper:
Thursday likes to say that they use the best materials and collaborate with the best tanneries so let’s test that claim. These boots have brown Thursday Chrome leather which is made in Mexico by the Le Farc tannery. It’s name and characteristics do not attempt to hide the fact that this leather is similar to Horween Chromexcel. Like CXL, it is combination tanned, meaning that it is both chrome and vegetable tanned. Also just like CXL, it is a pull up leather stuffed with oils and waxes so the leather lightens up as you pull on it or bend it. If you know me, you know that I do not like Chromexcel and believe it to be heavily overrated, but I do respect that good examples of it are objectively high quality leather.
Thursday Chrome feels like a knockoff… which is probably because it is. It shares the plain look of CXL with little depth of color, essentially no grain, and nothing very interesting about it in my view. You can tell it isn’t dry and you can tell it isn’t that terrible ‘genuine leather,’ but that’s about it. It has a sort of shine that CXL has, but it’s not that healthy, rich sheen that better leathers have. Pull up leathers tend to scuff and scrape easily and this is no exception, but the scuffs and scrapes reveal a dry looking leather beneath the surface while CXL just scuffs easily. Worse than this is the way the leather has creased. It reminds me of my terrible old Johnston and Murphy dress shoes. The wrinkles appear cheap and cracked, not like grain that is developing. Overall, this leather is the worst I have experienced on a pair of stitchdown or welted footwear and is quite disappointing. With that said, this is definitely better leather than cheap fashion boots and I have not yet compared this leather with what is offered by other brands in the $200 range, so this may stack up well against those leathers.
The laces and the eyelets are fine. They’re nothing to write home about and the laces aren’t as nice as any other examples I have, but they are acceptable for this price point. Thursday likes to tout the fact that they line their boots, but I don’t really understand this. The lining itself feel fairly cheap and plasticy, just about on par with the lining on my Urban Shepherd boots. It’s not even close to the level of the leather lining in higher end boots such as Motor, Carmina, and Viberg.
On a personal note, I don’t really get why lower end brands like to line their boots so often. To me, it makes absolutely no difference for casual boots in terms of comfort and is certainly not an indicator of higher quality.Of course, all of this has so far been written from a boot enthusiast perspective. If you are not one of those weirdos like me, you will probably be happy with the quality of the upper materials on these boots. They are definitely a lot better than what you get from Aldo, Topman, etc. Just know that there are much better materials out there that you can experience. I would have preferred if Thursday didn’t line the boots and put that saved money toward the upper leather.
Materials – Sole:
Here is where the Thursday boots differ most drastically from what denim heads and heritage wear enthusiasts are used to. Instead of heavy duty stacks of leather, you get mostly synthetic materials that have trademarked names that nobody understands like Poron and DuraEVA. They do use cork, but it feels like there is less cork here than with my other boots. As a result, these Thursday boots are quite light and flexible from the get go, but they do not have the support and toughness of other boots. Comfort will be discussed in the next section, but I would bet a fairly large amount of money that these materials are cheaper than using high quality leather midsoles, durable shanks, and larger amounts of cork.
*Thursday has contacted me and said that their Poron and DuraEVA materials cost ever so slightly more than the equivalent leather insoles and midsoles and that they do use an integrated steel shank in their insole. Conner from Thursday says he prefers this to leather and many of his customers do too. Thursday also tells me that they use 3-4mm of cork in their boots which they claim is standard for Goodyearwelted boots* I personally do not prefer the synthetic materials to leather, but I am happy to share this information with my readers.
The rubber outsole is a knockoff of a Dainite sole just as the leather is a Chromexcel double. However, this copy is not really an issue. While the Thursday Chrome is Jared Leto to Heath Ledger’s or even Mark Hamill’s Joker, this outsole is more Batfleck to Christian Bale’s Batman.* I can fully understand why a company trying to hit a price point doesn’t want to pay for British made Dainite soles when they can have their own cheaper version. These aren’t terrible, either. They grip pretty well on dry surfaces and have not worn down excessively quickly. It doesn’t rain much in Socal, but Dainite soles are terrible in the wet anyway so I doubt these would be much worse if at all. They are softer than a real Dainite though, but I will say that they’re better than I expected them to be.
*Thursday claims that they are not trying to hit a price point with these soles.*
Comfort is probably what Thursday touts the most about their boots aside from the price. From the perspective of someone who is completely new or only moderately into boots, I can see why people say these are comfortable. A lot of people who get into boots have issues with and are sometimes scared away by long break in periods and tough leathers from brands like Red Wing, Wolverine, Whites, Wesco, and Thorogood.
These Thursday boots do have a nearly nonexistent break in period, are very flexible, and feel fairly soft and comfortable from the get go. They feel more like sneakers than boots. This may sound like a good thing for some, but for me, it is not. Just like sneakers, these boots are comfortable for about an hour of standing and/or walking, but after that, they get uncomfortable pretty quickly. I have seen many reports of people pointing out that their Thursdays became horrendously uncomfortable after around a year or two of wear and I can see why. In fact, these aren’t even very comfortable for me right now if I wear them over long periods of time. Soft and flexible is not the same thing as supportive and molding. The lack of much cork in these means that they don’t conform to your feet anywhere near as much as more expensive boots.
My feet actually hurt after a full day’s wear in these and none of my other boots do that to me at this point now that my Wesco Knuckle Draggers have finally fully broken in. I am the first person to say that comfort is subjective and of course that is true here. However, the reason for why Thursday boots feel the way the do is less so. They use no leather in the midsole from what I can see, very little cork, and your foot rests almost entirely on relatively thin, synthetic material. I think the people who think these are extremely comfortable are in for a real treat when they break their first pair of high quality boots made with larger helpings of leather or maybe they just prefer the way sneakers feel. Captain boots by Thursday feel more like sneakers than boots and for some that may be a good thing, but it is not for me as they are not as soft as my sneakers are nor as supportive and molded as my other boots.
As far as construction methods, the Captain boots get solid marks overall. The 360 degree Goodyear welt does separate these boots from cheap fashion boots as it makes them more water resistant, durable, and resoleable. On the downside, however, the tongue is not gusseted. Why this is, I have no idea. All of my work style/casual lace up boots have gusseted tongues and this keeps them in place better and is more water resistant. Personally I think this is something that Thursday should change.
The construction quality itself is a mixed bag leaning on the mediocre side. Firstly, the clicking on my boots is poor. The upper and the toe cap are several shades darker than the vamp to the point that these boots look like a two tone model. The best part of the craftsmanship is the outsole stitching. It is fairly dense and overall quite neat. This part of the craftsmanship does match or beat some brands that cost more than Thursday such as Mark Albert, Urban Shepherd, Whites, Truman, Viberg’s stitchdown, Red Wing, Wolverine, and Oak Street. However, it does not match actual high end brands such as Motor, John Lofgren, Mister Freedom, Rolling Dub Trio or Viberg’s Goodyear welting.
The upper stitching is good in places and poor in others. Much of the uppers are sewn quite neatly and relatively densely. The more complicated areas such as where the quarter meets the vamp are very messy with a lot of loose threads, wonky stitching, and stitching that is too depressed into the leather. This is what I expected from a boot of this price so I’m not too bothered. There are also frayed threads where the stitching goes to the top of the boot shaft on the backstay and where the stitching goes down to the midsole, but again, this is not a disaster given the price. What is a problem is that on the outside of the left boot, there is a long section of very loose, frayed stitches. This is pretty bad and actually could be an issue with durability down the line.
In addition, there are other little issues such as the fact that the left heel stack was not finished well and one of the stacks of leather is sticking out too much and even the right boot has the same issue to a lesser degree. Also, on the left boot, the heel stack doesn’t seem to have been glued down very well and there is a sizeable gap at the front of the heel stack. There is also an area on this same boot in which the midsole is starting to come apart from the welt. Overall, the construction of these boots could be decent in the right circumstances, but there are a lot of quality control issues that hold them back from being good.
Thursday has specifically pointed out that people who do not like their boots generally do not own their boots and the people who do own their boots overwhelmingly (99% according to them) are happy with or love their boots. That makes sense to a degree, but the way they are talking this shows that they are either missing or ignoring the reasons why this is true. Yes, most people who don’t like Thursday boots don’t own them, but that’s because they know they won’t like them before they buy them. These people know about boots and can tell that Thursday is not up to par and for those people, I can tell you that you are right and these are not even close to the boots you probably own in quality, though of course they are less expensive too. My favorite boots all cost north of $900, which is why I disclosed that this review is coming from the perspective of a high end boot enthusiast. The production on most of their boots is outsourced, the leathers are sub par in the heritage menswear world in my opinion, the materials used for the footbed and midsoles are even more subpar to me, and the construction is mediocre to poor. It should surprise almost nobody that the people who buy Thursdays love them. Their target audience is people who don’t have backgrounds as boot enthusiasts.
Someone who already owns boots from John Lofgren, Wesco, Rolling Dub Trio, Clinch, Trickers, or White Kloud is not going to go out and buy Thursdays. The person Thursday is targeting is someone who previously has owned either no boots at all or boots from Aldo, Zara, Topman, or some other terrible brand that uses cemented construction and ‘genuine leather’. Of course people like that are going to love their Thursdays because in comparison to those boots, Thursday is miles better without question. McDonalds seems amazing if you’ve only eaten frozen TV dinners your whole life, but that doesn’t mean McDonalds makes a great burger and there are a myriad of other incredible burger restaurants in the world to discover.
I owned a lot of those generic, cemented boots in the past and I would have been thrilled with Thursday back then. I am confident that if Thursday had been around then and I bought a pair, I would have been very happy with them. However, there are other affordable brands out there and there are plenty of ways to find different and/or better boots than Thursdays for the same $200 price. In fact, this will be the subject of an upcoming article that I will publish shortly. If you haven’t learned a lot about boots yet or don’t care very much, you might think these are great, but once the veil is lifted and you learn what truly high quality boots are, these look like cheap imitations in comparison.
At the end of the day, I think Thursday does serve its niche. These boots are not terrible. I know that a lot of people want me to say that they are, but they simply are not. I also know that a lot of people want me to say that they are amazing and are just as good as much more expensive boots. They’re not. They’re not even as good as $300 boots in terms of materials and construction quality from where I’m standing. They are worth just about what Thursday is currently charging for them at $199 and I personally would not pay over $150 for them, but that’s just me. I think the reason they are a big deal is that before Thursday, there weren’t any well-known and easily obtainable boots that were of decent quality in this style and Thursday was the first to fill that niche and they advertise the most. The key factors there are well known and easily obtainable. Thursday’s advertising has made them the go-to affordable boot. Their advertising is another reason that boot enthusiasts do not like the company, but I will not go into that too deeply here and may write another article about advertising in the heritage menswear world if people would like to read that.
I do believe it is worth it to save $50-$100 more to buy a much better pair of boots or look for sales or used boots at around $200 instead. In fact, Urban Shepherd boots are $225 with their $50 off coupon right now (down from $275 list) and while not perfect, are a great deal better than Thursday based on my experience. It really is not that hard to find these deals if you try. If you are serious about getting into boots and eventually plan on buying multiple pairs, you will likely not be satisfied with Thursday once you upgrade. They’re OK, but nothing more.
For me, the basic requirement of any heritage level garment, especially anything made of leather is that it has to get better as it ages. These boots do not get better as they age in my opinion and therefore are not actually heritage menswear in my view. They could be if Thursday changed a few things and possibly raised the pricing a bit, but as of now, these boots have no place in my collection.
I actually do hope that Thursday changes things up and uses leather midsoles in all their boots *Thursday has informed me that they do use leather midsoles in some of their other boots*, some nicer leather, and fixes the QC issues. With that said, I am glad people buy Thursday instead of cheaper, cemented, mall brand and fashion boots. At the very least, they will get a higher quality product and at best, they will be introduced to the wonderful world of high quality boots and that can only be a good thing. This is only my experience and if I get a chance to try a brand new pair of Thursdays from this year, I will be happy to give them another shot. As of now, I am not a fan.
*Yes, the movies that Batfleck was in were awful, but Batfleck himself had potential