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 continues—inspiring new collections for today. This site pays tribute to the yellow boot’s heritage and influence—to the icon that built a brand.
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.”
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.
Urban hip-hop style first started in Hong Kong in 1985, then swept through Japan. It brought along with it a surge in demand for the yellow boot. The fashion was heavily influenced by American hip-hop culture that incorporated the yellow boot. Over the years, the boot has grown into a symbol of independence for many young adults in Asia.
Boot Your Dream
To many, wearing the yellow boot means you're ready to chase your dreams. That's exactly what the "Boot Your Dream" project was meant to inspire in Taiwan, rallying thousands of young people to pledge their commitment to pursuing their own dreams.
Envisioning the boot as a canvas was at the core of the Boroughs Project in New York City. In 2007, jeffstaple recruited five celebrated local artists, one from each of the New York City boroughs: Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Staten Island and Queens. Four of the submissions featured interpretations of the yellow boot. In the ultimate expression of authenticity, each of these artists designed a boot that best represented their neighborhood and their artistic medium. The result was a stunning collection of 6" boots that are uniquely New York.
In celebration of a new store opening in Ginza, Japan in 2003, five young Asian artists were given the yellow boot as a starting point for creating something unique. Using a mixture of fabrics, designs and mediums, the artists produced an exclusive collection of boots that remains true to the authenticity of the yellow boot..
In 1989, an emerging nonprofit organization out of Boston, Massachusetts sent up a request for 50 pairs of boots to outfit their corps of young volunteers. City Year's request was granted by then Chief Operating Officer, Jeffrey Swartz, the son of founder Sidney Swartz. Inspired by City Year's commitment to service, Jeffrey established the Path of Service™ program in 1992. Today, full-time Timberland employees get 40 paid hours for community service.
In 2005, Timberland partnered with Academy Award nominee Don Cheadle, and SaveDarfur.org to raise awareness about the atrocities of genocide occurring in Darfur. An exclusive Stomp Out Genocide boot was created as part of the highly successful campaign, placing the Timberland footprint on another cause born out of the company's commitment to social responsibility.
When Timberland employees arrived at the Clara Barton school in the Bronx in 2001, they were ready to serve, equipped with paint brushes and tools; their yellow boots laced up tight. They had no way of knowing that their lives would be forever changed that sunny late-summer day on September the 11th. As the day's events unfolded they continued to work alongside their fellow volunteers from Timberland partner organizations.
Every year since then, a dedicated group of volunteers returns to complete different projects in the Bronx on September 11th, once again ready to serve and once again, with their yellow boots laced up tight.
In the wake of 2005's Hurricane Katrina, 400 members of the Timberland community gathered in and around New Orleans to offer their services to people devastated by the storm. After putting in a full day of work, Timberland employees toured the infamous Ninth Ward, one of the communities hardest hit by the wrath of Katrina. Passing a tent full of donated goods, one of the employees decided to take off his boots and leave them behind for someone in need. The sentiment quickly took hold and before long, hundreds of pairs of Timberland® boots filled the tent.
In 2013, Timberland’s Yellow Boot celebrated its 40th anniversary with a global advertising campaign and events in it's honor.
The authenticity of Timberland’s Yellow Boot has transformed it into an icon. The boot is a badge of independence and reliability. Whether it’s worn by college kids on a New England campus or high school students in Tokyo; backcountry explorers in Europe or fashion moguls in Manhattan, by reflecting the core values of craftsmanship, functionality and ingenuity, the boot remains true to its roots-and continues to inspire people around the world.