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Blog/Brand Bible/Timberland History
There are few items of clothing that can boast the same iconic status and longevity as Timberland’s classic 6 Inch Premium boot. Here, we’ll look at the journey the boot has taken from being a humble work boot donned by America’s legions of blue collar workers to becoming a piece of fashion royalty.
The history of the company stretches back to 1933, when it was named the Abington Shoe Company. The firm largely produced hand-stitched shoes for wholesale purposes until 1965, when they made the bold choice to invest in a machine that allowed them to create waterproof shoes via injection- molding the seal between the upper and the sole.
The first 6 Inch Premium boot - the design of which has remained largely unchanged - was launched in 1973, after extensive testing had guaranteed the boots were waterproof. The “Timberland”, as it was known, was quickly adopted by manual workers all across New England, the Abington Shoe Company’s native region. In the boot’s second year, 1974, 5,000 pairs were produced; by the end of the ‘70s, they were responding to a demand with 400,000 pairs each year.
This rapid growth of the boots quickly eclipsed all their other product lines, and in 1978 the company demonstrated just how critical the boots had been to their success by renaming themselves The Timberland Company. However, even with the boots selling strongly, no one could have predicted the way in which they would be transformed from the functional to the fashionable over the next three decades.
This transition had, in fact, begun just one year after the birth of The Timberland Company in extremely unlikely fashion. Italy is home to one of the most notoriously exclusive fashion industries in the world, better known for towering stilettos and premium leather brogues, but it was there that the boot’s catwalk potential became truly apparent, with several large bulk orders at the end of the ‘70s hinting at things to come.
Timberland’s marketing activity remained resolute in aiming squarely at those it had originally started making its waterproof boots for. However, the boot continued to expand its reach, and soon found its way into the cultural niche that made it the phenomenon it is today; America’s hip-hop scene.
As the newly-minted musical subgenre of gangsta rap exploded into public consciousness in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, so did the boots being worn by some of the biggest stars of the West Coast movement. In fact, the boots became so synonymous with the style that they were name dropped in several songs.
Since this surge in popularity, Timberlands have simply never really gone away. They’ve remained ubiquitous ever since, helped along by appearances such as this one in Seinfeld, at the time America’s most watched show:
Now, with the boot in its 4th decade, it’s still going strong. Peaks and troughs in popularity are par for the course in the fashion industry, but with demand for Timberlands constantly propped up by their loyal fanbase who use the work boots for their original purpose, and the company’s diversification into other types of boots and shoes (many of which are shown above) the company can afford to ride the waves of popularity as they come.
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