The Timberland 6-inch yellow boots are the most basic, American, masculine boots in the world. Invented in 1973, it is the 40th anniversary of the shoe, and SUPREME has teamed up with Timberland to release an edition of premium nubuck and leather with snake embossing.
Founded in New England in the 1950s, the Abington Shoe company was the first to use injection-molding technology for footwear, creating the The Timberland, the first waterproof leather boot that didn’t use stitches to attach the sole to the upper. In 1978, the boots had become so popular they renamed the company after them.
Early ads for the boots played up the boots’ working-class New England origins. “When you’re crouching down in some gully with your feet in ice-cold water, never moving a muscle for hours, whilst them damn Treasury agents snoop around with their dogs…that’s the time you’re glad you didn’t cut corners on your boots,” read the company’s first full page ad in the New Yorker.
Yet Timberland’s all-American image can be credited to an accidental international collaboration with Italian teens. The Paninari, a pro-consumerist, hyper-American fashion subculture in 1980s Milan, built a strong look on cheeseburgers, Moncler jackets, and Timberlands, cementing the boots as a fundamental symbol of American utilitarian style – and, paradoxically, a fashion item.
Though a million pairs of the classic yellow boots had sold by 1985, sales more than tripled when rappers started endorsing Timberland in the 90s. In ’94, Biggie rapped, “I liked black Timbs and black hoodies” in “Suicidal Thoughts.” Timbs outsold Jordans hand over fist. The cover of Mobb Deep’s Juvenile Hell tells the whole story: black tracksuits, a scythe, and two perfect pairs of Timbs.
Composite identity aside, the Timberland yellow boot is perhaps menswear’s most successful example of coolness through the avoidance of coolness. Like its waterproof uppers, associations bead up and roll off the boot – remaining iconically warm, masculine, utilitarian, thug…and blank.
In a smart move, the 40th year release dispenses with the funny business of past collaborations to provide what is essentially the plain old yellow boot itself. It’s the brand’s strongest iteration, made slightly stronger with material updates – yet still 6-inches tall, still waterproof, and still yellow.
The boots will be released in Supreme stores New York, Los Angeles, London and online from tomorrow.