Within a few steps into Timberland’s headquarters in Stratham, N.H., visitors are reminded of the history the brand created 50 years ago with its Premium 6-Inch Boot. Near the entrance, a collection of limited-edition iterations of the iconic style, and its instantly recognizable buttery wheat colorway are on display, a range created to celebrate a half century of its existence and slated to arrive before year’s end.
While the silhouette is still revered, the brand that built it looks quite different today. Timberland — formerly known as Abington Shoe Company before adopting the name of its beloved boot in 1978 — is the home to 3,000 employees, its product is sold in more than 100 countries. The brand, which hit $1.8 billion in revenues in 2022, operates 173 stores worldwide.
The company — which was acquired by VF Corp. in 2011 — has delivered several fashion and outdoor staples in recent years, such as the Field Boot, the 3-Eye Lug Handsewn Boat Shoe and the Original Earthkeepers Boot.
The 6-Inch Boot, however, remains a fan favorite, and with Timberland now a half century old, the company is applying the same bold innovation and pioneering spirit that yielded the look to inform its future.
Today, Timberland revealed to select media at its headquarters how it will celebrate its 50th anniversary. The full year of programming will be highlighted by Future73, a collective of six creatives and designers who will reimagine the classic Premium 6-Inch Boot, in addition to ready-to-wear pieces to complement their creation.
The six people who are a part of Future73 include Clot founder Edison Chen, A-Cold-Wall* founder Samuel Ross, Knit In Motion founder Suzanne Oude Hengel, contemporary artist Nina Chanel Abney, Opening Ceremony co-founder Humberto Leon and Raeburn founder Christopher Raeburn.
For Leon, a frequent Timberland collaborator, this project offered a sense of newness.
“I’ve been working on Timberland things for 15 years now. I was able to affect color, I was able to tell the story of the original [shoes] but this is the first time I was given the opportunity to create something from scratch. In doing that, I wanted to pay homage to the original,” Leon said. “I wanted the shoe to feel like it could last, to be part of the future.”
As for the other creatives in the collective, the personal attachment to the brand made their inclusion particularly special.
“This was a bucket list moment for me. There are certain brands that are just so pivotal to what I actually wear. This is one of those brands, it’s almost surreal to be able to make a 6-Inch Boot and do whatever I want to it,” Abney said. “Also, to be among so many other great designers and this being new territory for me, I feel really honored to be thought of in that same vein.”
Ross added, “When this opportunity came about, I had such an emotional response to what Timberland has meant to me growing up. My first pair of Timbs, they were on sale, reduced 40% off in Saint Vincent — I lived in Caribbean as a child. This was when I was about 10 or 11 years old, and it just felt like a step up in terms of value.”
The group worked with the Timberland design team to bring the well-known style into the future by incorporating new knit technologies, chunky rubber soles, artwork and more. What’s more, Timberland said this project also produced the first Premium 6-Inch Boot to be designed for disassembly through its Timberloop circularity platform.
In addition to making their own Premium 6-Inch Boot, the designers created complementary apparel collections, as well as a second future-looking footwear design that was based on the Timberland silhouette of their choosing.
The group revealed their collections next to the brand’s maker space, a 1,500-sq.-ft. facility referred to internally as The Shed. The space, which Timberland opened roughly 12 months ago, is where they worked to bring their ideas to life. Timberland senior director of advanced concepts and energy Alex Dardinski described The Shed — replete with materials, lasting machines, laser cutters and other machinery — as a place that will enable problem solving, remaster silhouettes and drive innovation.
The Future73 collections of footwear and ready-to-wear pieces will be released in a series of seven drops between March and October. The drops will be released via influential fashion and streetwear retailers, as well as Timberland flagship stores and Timberland.com.
Timberland will give each collection its own launch moment, which includes workshop-style events hosted by the creators to share their vision and inspire others. The moment will be supported by a digital and social media campaign, which will include a series of video interviews discussing their Future73 process and the ideas behind their collections.
Aside from product, Timberland will also use its anniversary to focus on building its global community further.
Although the brand is rooted in workwear, its boots are also a street style staple, thanks to the hip-hop community adopting Timberland in the 1990s. Because of this, the company has created the Hip Hop Royalty Boot, which will arrive Feb. 24.
Also, to honor the Black community — which Timberland acknowledged helped make it the giant that it is today — the brand will partner with Cnstnt:Dvlpmnt, a business founded by its footwear designer Chris Dixon. The partnership will yield product and experiences that Timberland said will help expand the creative community. This includes design workshops hosted by Dixon and Melvin Melchor, who is also on the Cnstnt:Dvlpmnt team, in key cities along the I-95 corridor of the U.S. throughout the spring and summer.
To complete its anniversary celebration, Timberland confirmed it will release a 30-minute documentary film highlighting the innovation, fashion and cultural moments surrounding its iconic workboot, and release two 50th Anniversary Boot collections. Celebrations and film screenings will be held in October in cities that Timberland said are central to its story, including London, Shanghai and New York City.