Find out all about the origins of the Timberland Original Yellow Boot™ - from the secret to its waterproof design, to the Italian man who needed 600 pairs.
Over the past few years, the silhouette of our humble yellow boot has been a canvas for American icons even donning a quintessential football (no, really). Here we present some of our most memorable limited editions of the 6" boot.
From humble Classic to American Icon
When Sidney Swartz introduced The Original Yellow Boot™ to the world in 1973, he hadn’t set out to create a new sensation – it just happened that way.
That waterproof Original Yellow Boot™ was created for hard-working New Englanders, built from 39 components constructed via 80 separate steps, driven by form, function and craftsmanship rather than the lure of fashion runways.
But that didn’t stop its appeal spreading worldwide – in Europe it became the symbol of the “Made in the USA” look, in Asia it became a statement of individuality, and in America you were as likely to see it on a boat-builder in Massachusetts as a college student in California.
Sidney Swartz had a revolutionary idea – a branded boot that would form the basis of his company. But this would be no ordinary footwear. Instead, it was designed and built to cope with the hard, wet, snowbound winters of New Hampshire.
“Making an all leather boot that was waterproof was considered to be ridiculous – nobody thought that made any sense at all,” said Sidney as he recalled the first Original Yellow Boot™ concepts.
With tenacity, an unerring attention to every last detail and the application of the finest materials – that same nubuck leather that to this day keeps our feet warm and dry in all conditions on all terrains – Sidney created his masterpiece.
Little did he know that the boot he created, which would become the basis of Timberland, would enter the limelight.
A Star is Born
In the nineties, the humble yellow boot took off as a style icon when US hip-hop artists started wearing them, giving them mass street cred, unlaced and perfectly matched to their style and larger-than-life attitudes. This trend and fashion appeal is just as relevant today with Jay-Z, Kanye West, Pharrell and Rihanna being spotted wearing a pair of yellow boots.
But it’s not just hip-hop where its appeal lies. Everyone from builders to bartenders, from musicians to photographers wear this must-have. No one trend or culture can claim ownership of the Original Yellow Boot™ style because it goes so well with any lifestyle.
Whether it was NBA superstar Allen Iverson redefining sporting fame draped in fur minks and Timberland boots or supermodel Cara Delevingne pairing them perfectly with sleek dresses or sweat pants, there’s no sidewalk or catwalk they haven’t walked.
To get some insight, we sat down with the current Timberland Senior Footwear Product Director Donald Desalvio for some more secrets behind The Original Yellow Boot™.
Can you tell us something about The Original Yellow Boot™ we may not already know?
Did you know the first international sale was to an Italian gentleman? He came directly to Sidney Swartz and asked to buy 600 pairs! Surprised but pleased, Sidney sold them to him and figured he’d never see him again. But two months later, the Italian was back – he’d sold all 600 pairs and wanted more.
That’s how the Original Yellow Boot™ gained a foothold in Europe before going on to become the fashion icon it is today.
The Timberland Original Yellow Boot™ has become a timeless fashion staple – why do you think that is?
Simply because it’s unique. From the iconic wheat color to the hex-shaped brass eyelets and Taslan laces, the quality, consistency and the continued attention to detail that first made it popular has endured.
Timberland has made very very few tiny changes so it’s remained true to its original design.
Why do you think it has such enduring appeal?
The Original Yellow Boot™ has a timeless look and simplicity. Developing trends come and go in the fashion business, but there will always be consumers who love, want and appreciate what this boot offers in terms of aesthetics, durability and its instantly recognizable design.
How has the Yellow Boot evolved since it was first created?
When Sidney Swartz first unveiled The Original Yellow Boot™ in 1973, it was the first of its kind. The full-grain nubuck leather with sealed seams, four-row stitching and injection-molded soles permanently bonded to the top of the boot made it completely waterproof. That attention to quality and the finest materials really hasn’t changed.
The only real evolution has come in the technology we use in its construction rather than the styling. We’ve added an anti-fatigue footbed for improved comfort with geometric cone support that gives amazing shock absorption and energy return.
Timberland has unveiled several different versions of the Original Yellow Boot™, often design and style collaborations – what’s been the inspiration behind these?
We’ve created many different Yellow Boot variations over the years – some simple like color changes, using new materials and a few with added details or embellishments to make them unique. It’s such an iconic product that we like to seek out one-off collaborations with great designers as well as innovative style designs, like our various Limited Releases (like our collaboration with Pharrell that led to our Bee Line boots, inspired by a honeycomb image the hip hop artist found and made with bionic canvas - 50% organic cotton and 38% recycled PET).
To you, who is the Timberland man or woman?
It’s someone who spends time outdoors, be that the city or countryside. They want to stand out from the crowd, but they don’t have to be flashy to do it. They appreciate good quality and craftsmanship in every aspect of their life.