How A Boot For Construction Workers Got Intertwined With Hip-Hop Fashion

How A Boot For Construction Workers Got Intertwined With Hip-Hop Fashion - C-SQUARE
Since their introduction in 1973, Timberland's 6" Work Boots, also known as "Timbs," have undergone significant development. The six-inch high waterproof nubuck shoe, which can be seen on the feet (and in the songs) of everyone from Notorious B.I.G. to Kanye West, was initially created as a durable boot for New England construction workers. It has since come to represent hip-hop fashion.


Notorious B.I.G. wearing Timberlands
The brand never intended for its boots to be worn by rappers, and it initially tried to distance itself from its new audience because it felt the association was too distant from its blue-collar roots. This is why the brand's popularity in hip-hop circles is a strange one.
Converse, Dr. Martens, and Vans are just a few examples of brands that gained popularity in markets they were unaware even existed. Today, however, it is difficult to imagine these brands without their subcultural associations.
Timberland noticed a peculiar thing happening in New York City in the early 1990s while serving its core clientele of blue-collar workers, who adored the brand's boots for their superior waterproofing and tough as nails construction. Miles from Timberland's rural heartland and unaware of the company's reputation as a blue-collar brand, the hustlers, rappers, and outlaws of the Big Apple had developed an obsession with their boots.
The first "urban" buyers of Timberland boots, according to consumer journalist Rob Walker's book Buying In, were rumoured to be New York drug dealers who had to stand on the street all night and required the best footwear to keep them warm and dry.


Wu-tang clan wearing Timberland Boots 
Rappers in the city quickly followed suit, always looking to prove their hustler credentials, and soon the boot could be found everywhere—on Tupac's feet, in Biggie's lyrics, on Wu-feet, Tang's and in Mobb Deep's artwork. Rap publication Vibe reported that "everyone from thugs to step teams were stalking, walking in their six-inch construction boot," as they "stood up beautifully to urban elements like concrete, barbed wire, and broken glass."
Along with their footwear, rappers of that era helped lay the groundwork for our current obsession with workwear by pairing Timbs with brands like Carhartt and The North Face in a typically baggy 90s style.


The North Face X Timberland Boots
It's a look that has come to be associated with New York, and more specifically Harlem, as the rap scene has grown. A$AP Rocky, who recently stepped out in a classic brown pair with baggy jeans and a NY Yankees cap, is one of the city's rappers who still puts his own spin on the look.
However, the Timberland boot has expanded to new audiences around the world as a result of its status as a hip-hop (and New York) fashion icon.
As the brand continues to collaborate with designers and give them the freedom to experiment with its classic footwear styles, you're just as likely to see them today on your Instagram feed being worn by people like Bloody Osiris or in the lookbooks of fashion labels.
The highlights of the countless collaborations we've seen over the past year include yet another one with Supreme, a partnership with Stussy stylist Veneda Carter to transform workwear into evening wear, and a sneak peek at a collaboration with A-COLD-WALL*.
They might have started life as being strictly for workers, but Timberland's 6" Work Boots accidentally became a certified style classic.
Off-White X Timberland Boots