A return to its heritage is putting the lifestyle brand’s footwear back into premium indies
In the late 1990s, sales of Timberland’s classic yellow nubuck boots were riding high, driven by pop bands such as All Saints and Take That, who were photographed wearing the iconic style. Teamed with cargo pants, they made for a great stage outfit. But as fast as the trend for loose-fit cargo pant styles waned, yellow Timberland boots fell out of favour with the young fashion footwear market. Fast-forward to 2010 though, and Timberland is rebuilding its fashion credentials, thanks to the consumer trend to look to heritage brands for future purchases.
Classic Timberland footwear was picked up by directional menswear indies End Clothing in Newcastle upon Tyne and Oi Polloi in Manchester for the first time for autumn 09. Timberland UK consumer direct manager Russell Tayler explains: “As soon as the recession hit, people came back to heritage classic styles of footwear.”
Tayler credits the key yellow boot style for giving the brand an ‘in’ with buyers and allowing them to showcase other aspects of the footwear collection: “By getting into leading independents it gives us heat as a brand. We can say ‘we know you want the classic, but have you thought about this?’ It offers opportunities to showcase other products.” Timberland has four main footwear collections: Elite, Classics, Earthkeepers and Outdoor. Elite, the premium end of the offer, houses the trend-led Abington Collection and Boot Company ranges. Classics offers pieces including a hand-sewn boat shoe, while Earthkeepers is an eco-conscious range that employs recycled materials. Outdoor has technical features such as Gore-Tex and Vibram-branded textiles and soles.
Christiaan Ashworth, co-owner of End Clothing, bought into the Abington Collection for the first time last year and has just finished his buy into Classics for spring 11.
“We bought [Timberland] because of its rich heritage and the styles were on trend, particularly the three-eyelet boat shoe and seven-eyelet canvas and leather work boot. It is the rugged outdoor image that is helping the brand’s revival.”
Timberland has 20 UK company-owned stores. The company is also trialling a pop-up shop in the Lake District in partnership with Rathbones of Keswick, a leading outdoor clothing-focused indie in the area.
“To have a presence in outdoor clothing strongholds such as Keswick is vital to our mission of being the number one outdoor footwear brand,” says Tayler.
Timberland 01753 497000
Number of company-owned stores
Number of UK stockists
Footwear to clothing sales ratio