I was curious about these since I got a chance to see a sneak peek in store a while back. I’ve been officially fiending for them since they dropped a couple of weeks ago and abstract curiosity about a future release rapidly mutated into a very real desire to “Own! Own now!”
Thorogood‘s No. 685 boot is a plain-toed, 7-eyelet work boot that was originally sold as a “Job-Fitted Work Shoe for Farm Wear” back when it was introduced in the 1950’s. Revived by Brooklyn’s Epaulet for Fall 2010, 144 pairs were produced exclusively for the shop.
Though the boots’ true workwear lineage probably won’t be fully realized by the many folks like me who are more likely to wear these on the sidewalk than the fields, the handsome ruggedness that springs from their utilitarian origins certainly ain’t nothing to sneeze at.
Luckily, “rugged” doesn’t translate to “clunky” here. While some boots like Red Wings are just a little too substantial for my tastes–especially in the height of the toe box–the 685 has a slightly lower profile that I find much easier to work into a modern wardrobe.
These would look great paired with jeans, a heavyweight chino, or gray tweed trousers. That’s just what jumps to mind for me. Rock other options as you see fit. I might be careful not to go too formal or lightweight on the bottom half, though. These may be a highly wearable and versatile work boot, but they’re a work boot all the same, and that calls for some degree of heft on the complimentary pieces. (Of course I’m not opposed to evidence to the contrary…)
In terms of materials and construction, these boots far outshine what one might expect from their $245 pricetag. The leather is a rich brown full-grain horsehide from Horween. It’s vegetable tanned and has not been buffed or corrected. Translation? There may be some nicks and scratches on the leather, and that sort of thing will be unique to each pair. Like all quality horeshide products, you can trust that the leather will take on a fantastic patina as it ages, becoming further personalized with wear.
The outsoles are cork-filled neoprene, with a brick red color that takes on a pleasing heathered effect due to the combination of materials. They also feature an industrial rubber heel for an extra dose of durability. The insoles are built with a clear mind for comfort: a layer of gel provides the first line of padded defense, and a Poron urethane strip under that wicks away moisture from the foot while providing another round of padding. It’s all put together in Wisconsin with a Goodyear welted construction. Pretty damn impressive.
Just in case you aren’t sold yet, consider the fact that horsehide is naturally very water resistant. The welt adds to this resistance by keeping water from creeping in along the midsole. Add a little mink oil for more protection and you’ve got yourself a solid foul weather boot. It won’t be Bean Boot-grade waterproof, but it’ll be pretty good if you find yourself caught out on a nasty day.
Oh, and there’s also the simple truth that these look damn good. That’s kind of important, too.
Click on over to Epaulet’s online shop to pick up your pair and check out some sizing advice (spoiler alert: they’re pretty much true to size). If you’re in NY, hit the actual shop and you can try ’em on for yourself. Aside from the permanent Brooklyn storefront at 231 Smith Street, you can check out the pop up collaboration with Reed Space at 151 Orchard Street on the Lower East Side during the month of October.
(Images courtesy of Epaulet)
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