Thursday Boot Company, the direct-to-consumer brand focused on quality manufacturing, has a new audience to speak to. The brand launched its first women’s collection of boots on Thursday, a 5-piece line that spans booties to lace-ups made with premium leathers and performance suede.
“We’ve had thousands of people sign up for notifications about our women’s collection ahead of launch, so I think the demand is there,” said Thursday Boot Company CEO and Creative Director Nolan Walsh.
That direct-to-consumer, first perspective has been a huge advantage for Thursday Boot Company, as it has allowed two novice shoe entrepreneurs, Walsh and co-founder Connor Wilson, to pursue footwear. The college friends had no prior industry connections before starting Thursday. Walsh was working on a clean energy startup after years working in finance at Barclays Capital. He says their involvement in footwear manufacturing came entirely by chance.
“It sounds ridiculous, but on a surf trip in Nicaragua we met a guy who knew a guy who makes boots. We just dove down the rabbit hole head first.”
Creating a boot brand that met their “picky tastes” soon became a personal passion project for Walsh and Wilson. “It seemed like all the boots out there were either clunky work boots or delicate overly-trendy fashion boots. We aren’t lumberjacks or edgy Parisian fashionistos.”
Since launching Thursday Boot Company as a men’s boot brand in Fall ’14, Walsh and Wilson has gleaned insight from customers on sizing, areas of improvement and building strong relationships—insight that has left them feeling confident as they step into the women’s category.
“We’ve had roughly 1,000 customer reviews to-date and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Walsh. “A lot of people highlight the versatility and comfort in their reviews, but my favorite feedback is always from customers sharing personal stories. We’ve heard stories of customers wearing our boots on their wedding night, to job interviews and while traveling the world. This weekend we had someone message us saying he bought Thursday Boots when he started physical therapy after a bad leg injury. The boots were motivation to get better, and he can now walk in the boots without a leg brace. It’s deeply humbling to see our brand play a part in people’s lives, even in small ways.”
Ultimately, Walsh says going into footwear blindly has helped set a high standard across all areas of the business. “I think our lack of experience was a bit of a blessing, as it allowed us to question every step of the manufacturing process and create a uniquely efficient, customer-centric organization.”
VAMP: Why is a good time for the brand to introduce women’s boots?
Walsh: We have been testing for well over a year, and think the same gap we saw in the men’s market exists in the women’s market—and with boot season and the holidays ramping up, we feel that there is no better time than now. Have you ever seen a women’s footwear product page explain their product materials in detail or give any technical specs? There is very little transparency in the women’s market today, and wearability seems to be an afterthought for most top-tier designers. I think women care about quality and versatility as much as men do, and the initial feedback from women has been very positive.
VAMP: What are some of the key styles in the debut collection?
Walsh: We are launching the collection with 5 key styles: the Downtown 1.5” heel bootie, Uptown 3” heel bootie, Modern 3” heel boot, Duchess Chelsea boot, and President lace-up boot.
VAMP: Is there a misconception that craftsmanship and quality only appeals to male consumers?
Wilson: While style is critical, we believe comfort, durability and quality are important to everyone. Everyone deserves to understand the craftsmanship they pay for. Even at the top-end of the market, I have never seen a women’s footwear brand explain the technical specs of their boots in detail and many of them use cheap materials. It seems like wearability is an afterthought for most designers.
Have you ever seen a women’s footwear product page explain their product materials in detail or give any technical specs?
VAMP: Why are the materials that you use special?
Walsh: All the boots are made using Tier 1 leather originating from USA cattle. [We use] Thursday Chrome Brown leather, which is a rich pull-up leather with complex hues of mahogany and burgundy that we developed in coordination with the gold star tannery Le Farc. [We also use] WeatherSafe suede that is tanned with cutting-edge waterproof technology embedded deep within the leather to prevent staining and keep your feet dry…All the boots come with super soft glove leather lining, although it’s significantly more expensive than typical pig or cow skin lining. It provides an unparalleled luxurious feel.
VAMP: How are the shoes tweaked for women?
Walsh: From a performance perspective, we are very proud of our 3-inch heel Uptown and Modern boots. We spent a great deal of time working on the shape of the boot to create a structure that doesn’t squish your toes while maintaining a feminine toe box. We also include a comfy insole specifically designed for the slope of the foot created by the higher heel. The initial feedback from women has been incredibly positive. Men care a lot about durability, and I think our experience with the men’s market has led to us using top quality outsoles and rubber heel compounds that will be appreciated by women.
VAMP: How do you envision the women’s line evolving in future seasons?
Walsh: This is just the beginning. We don’t follow the standard fashion calendar, so you can expect a pretty consistent set of new materials and styles to be released over the next year. Our men’s collection is four-times bigger than when we first started two years ago, and we intend to expand the women’s collection with the same energy and passion.