The Timberland 6-Inch Boot: Form, Function, and Hip-Hop Cool / by Alex Young

The Swartz family was certainly not aware of the cultural mainstay they created in 1978 when the Abington Shoe Company became The Timberland Company solely from the success of one boot. Timberland, footwear specialists, makes a boot called the 6-Inch Waterproof Boot that is so deeply rooted in popular culture due to its functionality, simplicity, and urban youths who stomped around New York City in the early 1990s, specifically those in the world of hip-hop.

What made the 6-Inch Boot so unique, and better than its competitors during the time of its birth, was the boot's creation process. In 1965 Timberland introduced injection-molding technology that fused soles to leather uppers without stitching, producing a true waterproof boot. Innovative design and production led to a classic in 1973 when Abington Shoe Company delivered one of the first leather waterproof boots of its kind, the Timberland 6-Inch Boot, originally named under Abington as the "Timberland". The Yellow boot was an immediate success.  Such a commercial success only made sense for Abington Shoe Company to change its name to what it was best known for, hence The Timberland Company. Incorporating premium full grain nubuck leather, rubber lug soles, comfortable glove leather lining, padded leather collars, and unprecedented craftsmanship, Timberland's 6-Inch was the perfect work boot to fit within the company's hard working and dedicated philosophy that represented its fellow New England natives. Furthermore, the boot carries a simplistic attitude and build highlighted in its "Yellow", "Wheat", or "Butter" colorway that stores like Saks Fifth Avenue keenly recognized as a staple in fashion. This aspect allowed the Timberland 6-Inch to transcend its construction, weatherproofing, and work-purpose origins, opening the doors for the 1990s taste-making hip-hop community in New York City to make this rugged boot "cool".

The NYC hip-hop scene in the '90s saw Timberland's 6-Inch Waterproof Boot everywhere--on the feet of Notorious B.I.G., Wu-Tang Clan, Jay Z, Swif-N-Wessun, and more. In a 2012 interview current Timberland CEO Jeff Swartz stated how he was initially surprised the boot had such a following amongst inner city teens and young adults. Why was this the case? The pride the Swartz family has in their brand and their product was evident as Jeff Swartz spoke. He proclaims, "We make the best damn boot in the whole world, we guarantee it for life and it won't disappoint you... Our strategy has been about putting your head down and making something so good that they gotta have it." This confidence the Swartz family has injected into Timberland since its inception goes hand in hand with hip-hop's self-boasting and tough mentality that is often confused with brash arrogance. Black Timb poster boy and Wu-Tang member, RZA, said of the boot in an interview with GQ last year, "They had all the qualities of a good product and that's why we continued to wear them. Timberlands became something that was cool and rugged at the same time." In a world where suede Pumas, shell-toe adidas, and Jordans were already staples in wardrobes, the Timberland boot offered a fresh alternative to add to rappers' baggy jean, oversized, working-class chic look, while offering form and function in New York City's brutal winter weather. The boot was name dropped with ease in songs and appeared on album covers seamlessly fusing fashion and hip-hop into a cohesive unit that still remains today, "Timbs all seasons for ass kickin' reasons," rapped Swif-N-Wessun in his 1995 "Wrekonize".  This trend that gained momentum in the 1990s has now turned into a staple piece in the wardrobes of all walks of life and is still seen on the feet of pop culture's most influential people such as Kanye West and Cara Delevingne.

Without the Timberland craze that swept through the hip-hop and urban communities, the 6-Inch Waterproof Boot would not be the icon it is now. To pay homage to this fact, InTheRough took to our current urban environment in Greenville, SC with our classic Timbs to shoot a lookbook. The purpose was to highlight the confidence, rugged, and cool characteristics that weave through Timberland's boot and hip-hop culture. The top of Greenville's Paris Mountain and a happened-upon skatepark, called ROOTS Skatepark, served as the perfect landscapes with their colorful, raunchy, and boastful graffiti facades.  We showcase the one and only Yellow 6-Inch Timberland, as well as a copper brown pair that compliments the classic. The lookbook is available above, enjoy!

Buy your pair here and read more about Timberland on the brand's website!

ROOTS Skatepark

3708 White Horse Road, Greenville, SC 29611