The Thorogood 1892 Janesville Natural Nantucket Boots 814-3781: Initial Impressions: Featuring the Boot's Designer, Clint Greendeer!
Leather: Horween Natural Nantucket
Outsole: Vibram Christy
Insole: Comfort Cushion/PORON
Welt: 360 Degree Goodyear, Storm Welt
Made in the USA
About Thorogood and the Janesville Model:
Thorogood (Weinbrenner Shoe Company) has been making boots since 1892. The company was started, and still run to this day, in Wisconsin. It is employee owned and unionized, a rarity in today's fashion world! Thorogood's bestselling boots come from the American Heritage Moc-Toe Line. The 6" Moc-Toe Work Boots in Tobacco in particular are a favorite among Thorogood followers!
The Janesville Boot is a similarly designed moc-toe boot that is part of Thorogood's 1892 Collection. All of the boots in this series are named after towns in Wisconsin and boasts quite an impressive lineup!
This Janesville model, in particular the 814-3781, is a collaboration boot with Clint Greendeer of Context Clothing. Context Clothing (est. 2005) is located up in Madison, Wisconsin and is a specialty store for well made, heritage clothing; from denim to boots to wallets! The store had the honor of being named one of of the top ten independent men's clothing stores in the US by GQ Magazine in 2010!
I had the privilege to get to know Clint and ask him a few questions about the Janesville Nantucket Boot and Heritage Clothing. (interview after "Initial Impressions")
I had been looking into getting a pair of moc-toe boots for sometime now. However, the overall boot style made me worry that a pair would like like clown shoes on my feet. I had even tried on competitors' boots and were still unsure. What struck me first about these boots is the beautiful, Natural Nantucket Leather. It was hard to find much information about this type of leather. The other Janesville models are made from Horween's famous Chromexcel Leather, a favorite among boot makers and collectors. The Natural Nantucket is different though in that it is a pure, vegetable-tanned leather and not combination tanned like Chromexcel.
Not only do the boots look great but they are very comfortable out-of-the-box, compared to other moc-toe style boots I have tried on in the past, and did not even need a day of breaking in. The inclusion of a removable Thorogood Comfort Insole is one of the main reasons for this no break-in period and allows a person to have more possibilities with what socks they wear. That is a big deal to me as I have the option of taking the insole out in the winter time in order to put on thicker socks!
The Janesville is more simplistic in terms of design compared to their Thorogood Moc-Toe brethren; less stitching and branding, no steel toe etc... While the Heritage Line boots are made for manual labor, the 1892 Collection is more fashion focused. That doesn't mean that the 1892 boots aren't meant to get beat up, no, they are tough! However, I believe these would not pass many regulations for footwear in different industries compared to the Heritage Boots.
That being said these boots hold up well in less than ideal conditions. I trudged them through a muddy hill (which was a bad idea for those pretty white soles) about a week after I got them and they held up (And held me up!) well (although they got really dirty). The ground has been very wet because of constant rain and melting snow. I have had no problems with water getting into the boot. In fact, I ran them once under the faucet after the trip through the mud and not one drop got in. Just working for that patina!
In terms of quality of construction, the boot is very well made. The Storm Welt is perfect and the upper is stitched to perfection. There were one or two loose threads (which I have read can be a problem with some Thorogood Boots), however, nothing alarming that will effect the everyday wear of the boots. I feel people tend to nitpick over the smallest details and forget that products such as these boots are handmade. Minor cosmetic flaws that are barely visible cause me no concern and makes the pair I own unique to me.
When it comes to the price, the 1892 Collection is more expensive than other Thorogood boots (however, they do go on sale from time to time) and are competitively in line with the popular Red Wing Heritage Collection. One of the reasons for the higher cost is that the leathers used to make these boots are of better quality and come from the infamous tannery Horween, which is located in Chicago. Second, the sole is made by Vibram, which is considered one of the best sole makers in the world for shoes and boots. On Thorogoods' other boots, they use their own in house soles that are made specifically for certain work environments and saves on production cost.
I prefer the slimmer profile of the Janesville compared to Thorogood's Heritage moc-toe models. I think they look great with selvedge denim (if you couldn't tell from the pictures). Getting to know the man behind this particular design (see below), and the fact that Thorogood is a company that's located one state north of me, puts a stamp of 'authentic heritage' on these boots for me. I not only own a product from a brand with a rich American history, I also got to put a face to the person who had a hand in the product's creation!
Get to Know Clint Greendeer:
How did you get involved with Thorogood?
I (Clint) became familiar with Thorogood while working at Context Clothing. Ryan and Sam (of Context Clothing) met with Thorogood to discuss new styles for the 1892 Collection. They asked me what my ideal Thorogood boot would be, so I started to research vintage Thorogood‘s to gain inspiration. Ryan and Sam pitched Thorogood my concept of a new boot, and I’m honored that Thorogood put the Janesville in Natural Nantucket 814-3781 into production.
What about the moc-toe style do you love?
I love the workwear aesthetic, especially when pairing Moc-Toe style boots with selvedge denim.
Why go with the natural, vegetable tanned leather? What about it drew you to it over other leathers?
I went with natural leather because of the high contrast patina it develops. It’s cool to see how the light leather gets darker over time and with more wear.
Besides the Janesville 814-3781, what other boots do you own that are among your favorites? Why?
Context 113 Boot 814-1113
Janesville Black 814-6781
Beloit Natural CXL 824-4311
I am a big fan of the Plain Toe Beloit Boot in Natural Chromexcel. That boot is what influenced me to go with a similar leather for the Janesville in Natural. The Plain Toe on the Beloit looks great with Chinos for a formal look and goes well with denim for the workwear aesthetic.
The 113 Boot is a rugged Moc-Toe in oily Horween Plainsman Leather. I love the natural irregularity in the leather which makes each boot unique to itself and the person wearing them.
What first got you into vintage items and heritage clothing?
Levi’s 501 denim was my first calling to heritage clothing. The 501 Jean is a versatile garment that has been worn by many people in so many ways. I like the approach of soaking a pair of unsanforized 501’s then breaking them in. The 501s are very versatile! I believe that adds to the non-verbal expression of how we decide to dress ourselves.
What cleaning/conditioning/polishing products do you recommend you use with the 814-3781s?
I recommend a horsehair brush on them every 2-3 wears. When it comes time for boot care, apply Obenauf’s LP evenly on the boot. I like to add Obenauf’s to the leather laces so they become more flexible and it holds the knot better.