IT STARTED 40 YEARS AGO WITH A BOOT CALLED TIMBERLAND.
Founded on quality craftsmanship and Yankee ingenuity, that boot helped build a brand and set new standards in the footwear industry. Its quality, authenticity and rugged outdoor heritage continue—inspiring new collections for today. This post pays tribute to the yellow boots heritage and influence—to the icon that built a brand on this.
Nathan Swartz started it all in 1952 with the Abington Shoe Company in South Boston. His two sons, Sidney and Herman, joined him a few years later and relocated the company to Newmarket, New Hampshire. In 1973, Sidney introduced one of the first waterproof leather boots of its kind. Incorporating premium full grain nubuck leather, thick rubber lug soles and unprecedented craftsmanship, the yellow boot was an instant classic. He named it the “Timberland”.
The “Tree” Logo
The mark of quality, right there on the outside of the boot. Timberland was one of the first companies of its kind to boldly brand a product like this. Many discouraged Timberland from burning the logo onto the outside of the boot. They feared it would damage the leather and no one would want to buy. Turns out, the exact opposite happened.
Timberland didn’t set out to create a new fashion icon. The yellow boot was born for a hard working New Englander. It was form, function and craftsmanship that inspired Timberland to create its yellow boot, not trends and runways. And remaining true to that authenticity is the very ideal that appealed to the fashion world’s trend makers everywhere.
Eventually, selling to stores like Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue was the beginning of a whole new era of the yellow boot: the boot as fashion.
The Timberland® brand was known for quality handsewn boat shoes in Europe in the early 1980s. But by the mid-1980s, everyone wanted to know more about the yellow boot. Timberland distributors attended shoe shows across the continent. The rugged, waterproof nubuck leather was like nothing else ever seen on display at these shows. Soon the yellow boot could be found at high-end sporting goods stores, department stores and men’s fashion stores throughout Italy, the United Kingdom and Germany.
In Italy, the epicenter of the yellow boot explosion, the rise in popularity can in part be credited to the “Paninaro”. The Paninaro movement in the early 1980s was a subculture of youths that were known for their regular hangouts at the “Al Panino” bar—a popular sandwich and burger joint in Milan’s Via Agnello district. They chose the yellow boot as a cornerstone of their fashionable style. By the mid-1980s, the yellow boot was adopted into popular culture in Italy, appealing to a consumer-driven middle class that was searching for a “Made in the USA” look.
Today the Timberland yellow Boots come in many designs and colors. Over the years many designs have been released as a tribute to the classic or in reference to special events and kinda like the converse all stars, many collaborations with other designers have resulted to a huge supply of models.