A new archive exhibition opening at Phonica Records this month charts the rise and rise of the iconic yellow Timberland boot as it turns 45. We’re pretty excited – especially for all the ’90s nostalgia and archive images. They’re an A-lister’s boot of choice at Fashion Week and they’ve long been a hip hop staple (they even have a producer named after them!). But just how did the Timberland boot become such an icon?
The humble yellow Timberland began as a shoe for construction workers. Introduced by Sidney Swartz in 1973, they were a hard-wearing boot that was built to last. But then woke New Yorkers started wearing them in the ’80s – to keep their toes cosy through harsh winters.
Soon they became popular with hip hop artists in the city, too. As well as writing rhymes, Tupac, Biggie Smalls, Mobb Deep and Wu-Tang Clan all stomped about in their Timbs. Then, one Timothy Zachery Mosley was nicknamed Timbaland for his love of the shoe in 1992.
Over in the UK, yellow Timberlands were taking off hard among ’90s ravers – presumably in part because they were a sensible footwear option when trekking out to parties in the woods, but mostly, because they just looked cool.
In the ’00s came J-Lo’s stiletto versions, by Manolo Blahnik – which she made famous in the ‘Jenny from the Block’ video. (Recently Rihanna gave these a re-er-boot as a tribute, in a darker brown shade with a fur trim).
Britney started wearing the aspirational yellow boot at the height of her fame, and so did Jay-Z – as do countless other music royalty to this day, from Drake to Beyoncé, Little Mix to Rita Ora, French Montana, Gwen Stefani, Ellie Goulding, Bebe Rexha, and DJ Khaled.
And it’s not just stars in the music industry who love their Timbs – the brand counts celebs like Khloé Kardashian among their fans. One thing’s for certain – Timberlands aren’t going anywhere.
The exhibition celebrates this iconic status, as well as showing off some rare archive boots in collaboration with Pharrell Williams – the nature-inspired 50 percent organic cotton Pharrell Bee Line boot has a honeycomb pattern.
You’ll also get to witness Timberland’s newest collab at the exhibition: as this season it partners with Unsplash, a social platform for photographers around the world, in its first-ever community-generated boot campaign. This Celebrating Boots concept will create a truly international, diverse and inclusive image of the esteemed boot brand.
The limited-edition 45th anniversary boot collection will also be unveiled – available to buy at the beginning of November. The refreshed boots boast sapphire detail, premium two-tone yellow and sapphire laces, and a tongue embossed with the new 45th anniversary logo.
Whether you’re a footwear aficionado or a massive music fan (or both) be sure to drop by Phonica Records from November 9-10 to see the archive boots up close, and delve into the history of this quintessential music and fashion staple.
Timberland’s Celebrate the Icons exhibition runs from 11am-6pm on Nov 9-10. Phonica Records, 51 Poland St, W1F 7LZ. Tube: Oxford Circus.