There are a few shoes that have reached icon status and continue to hold their spot in fashion and hip-hop culture. But none have quite hit the status of the Timberland boot. Originally intended for the blue-collar workers of North East America, the boot that debuted back in 1976 transcended its purpose to become a status of rap royalty. But how did this unlikely rise occur?
Going back to the beginning the company we now know as Timberland began with a shoemaker named Nathan Swartz and was called the Abington Shoe Company. Back then the company’s main interest was making waterproof shoes that could stand up to the outdoor conditions of workers. This idea was proving to be difficult but in there was a breakthrough, and in 1976 the company debuted the Waterproof Timberland Boot.
The original boot was 8 inches, came in a variety of colors and was heavily branded with the tree logo we see today. The boot was a pioneer but when the 6in version was released the boot took on a life of its own. Ultimately becoming so popular that the Abington Shoe Company officially changed its name to Timberland. By the ’80s the boot had made its way to the city and had begun moving through the boroughs, and by the ’90s The Original Yellow Boot would skyrocket to icon status by way of rap.
Rap music was on a perpetual rise in the early 90’s and along with a few other brands it took Timberlands along for the ride. Soon rappers like Biggie, Nas, Jay-Z, Mob Deep, and the Wu-Tang Clan began referencing the boot, affectionally known as Timbs, in their songs. Classic lyrics like ” Timbs for my hooligans in Brooklyn” by Biggie and “Suede Timbs on my feet makes my cipher complete” by Nas further solidified the star power of Timberlands. By the end of the 90’s Timbs had become much more than a boot and was viewed as a measurement of success in the culture.
In the years to follow, Timberland went on to collaborate with many street-wear brands such as Supreme, Billionaire Boys Club and Stussy just to name a few. While the Timberland brand owes a lot of its success to the 90’s era of hip-hop, another key factor to their success is simplicity. The humble workers boot that started the brand has stayed true to its original design from the 70’s. Even with many new options and styles, the 6in Waterproof Boot in the Wheat Nubuck colorway remains the brand’s best-seller and their bread and butter.