Timberland Boots, an American Icon

Timberland: the “Original Yellow Boot” has long been a popular American icon. The classic look has been copied by many, but never really duplicated. 

How did the concept of this simple yet intriguing boot come about? How did it grow to become so recognizable? 

This article will answer these questions. It will do so while building your appreciation for the product that you surely greatly appreciate already: Timberland boots.

Timberland Boots: The Early Origins

Timberland boots are definitely an American icon. However, in different ways they owe a great deal to Russia, Israel, and Italy.  Keep reading to find out why:

Nathan Swartz was born into a Jewish family in Russia back in the early 1900’s. While still a teenager his family immigrated to the United States. In NYC the young Nathan began his apprenticeship in a shoe repair shop. This, however, was not how he has introduced to the art. He had shoemaking in his blood. The art was learned from his father who in turned had learned it from his father. Nathan Swartz was in fact the fourth generation of his family to work with shoes. 

In 1952 Nathan Swartz decided to take his destiny into his own hands and invested in half of the shares of a promising company. The company was originally called The Abington Shoe Company. Because of his good results Mr Swartz bought up the second half of the shares just a few years later. 

It was this company based in Massachusetts that would later change its name to: The Timberland Company. Why do we say that Timberland owes some credit to Italy? Because the first international sale was from an Italian merchant. Italians really know their shoes and they pay a lot of attention to quality. 

Timberland and Italy:

An Italian merchant quickly recognized the potential of Timberlands revolutionary boot and requested 600 pairs. So he then exported all 600 pairs to Italy. This resulted in a huge success and he soon was back filling out an order for much more. 

Legend has it that he would use some theatrics to sell them; in addition to pointing out their high quality design. He supposedly would smear them in mud in front of an audience. He would then show how easy they would clean up and be as beautiful, and yellow, as ever!

Timberland is still a very respected company today in Italy. It is hence a favorite among many Italians, especially Italian Youth!

What Made Timberland Boots So Special

The idea that eventual made Timberland boots so special was quite revolutionary for its time. That was the idea of a leather boot that was not water resistant, but waterproof. Many ridiculed this “out of the box” thinking, as they write it off as impossible. However, when the finished product was designed the ridicule turned to amazement and the boot quickly took off.  

The idea of waterproof boots wasn’t new. However, a leather boot that looked and felt so great. One that was waterproof and stylish at the same time, was a new concept. 

Another “new” concept that Timberland had was branding their logo on the outside of the boot and not just the inside. The Timberland logo burned into the yellow nubuck leather towards the back of the boots made them easily recognizable. They were truly different from anything else on the market at the time.

Of course the high quality of Timberland boots, both in craftsmanship and material selection, never went unnoticed. It is one of the main reasons that Timberland has enjoyed continues success throughout the decades.

Are Timberland boots Really Waterproof?

Most people that have never worn a Timberland boot in wet conditions would be very skeptical. Those of us, however, that have worn Timberland boots in wet conditions have been converted! 

Timberland boots are in fact waterproof by the true meaning of the word. They are not just water resistant!

This, as mentioned above in this article, was one of the very things that helped catapult the Timberland brand into the world. The idea of a leather boot that is completely waterproof was unthinkable back when the idea was first conceived. Even today some continue to question the idea. 

So, here is the proof (other than trying them out for yourself). There are several ingenious features that make Timberland boots waterproof:

1st characteristic that makes Timberland waterproof:

 The first characteristic that makes Timberland boots waterproof is that the factory infuses them with silicone. This means that the very characteristic of the leather is waterproof. So the “waterproofing” will not wear off like other typical waterproof coatings.

2nd characteristic that makes Timberland waterproof:

The second characteristic that makes Timberland boots waterproof is that the seams are sealed with silicone, therefore no water will get through the leather seams where they are sewn together.

3rd characteristic that makes Timberland waterproof:

The third characteristic that makes Timberland boots waterproof is that the leather on the boot is actually fused to its rubber sole. Therefore no water can get through where the boot’s sole meets the upper of the boots.

YES! Timberland boots are completely waterproof! This comes as a surprise to many because of the breathability of the boots, most waterproof boots will make your feet sweat in hot weather, Timberland, however, are comfortable in hot and cold weather alike! 

That having been said I wouldn’t recommend wading across a river in them. It seems obvious, but worth mentioning that the boots are not all that high so if water goes above the top it will obviously get in. Even Timberland hasn’t figured out how to fuse a boot to your leg yet 😉

How Timberland Boots Have Evolved 

Honestly very little has changed in the “yellow boot” since its creation. Thankfully the company recognizes the “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” mentality. 

As new technological advances have been discovered Timberland has made some minor adjustments to the soles of the boots and to the methods of production. However, the boot remains basically the same as it was when first introduced.  

Many of the changes are purely aesthetic, for example, when special models are released. The main basis for Timberland boots, however, continues to be the original yellow boot!

Are Timberland for Men or Women?

When the “first yellow boot” was designed, it was designed as a waterproof comfortable and practical men’s workbook. It was embraced as such in its beginning.

As time went on, however,  things changed and evolved. The Timberland boot company learned that there was potential in the field of women’s fashion for product. 

Timberland went on to design a “yellow boot” to comfortably fit a woman’s foot. The results were even better than expected! 

Today, in addition to the classic “yellow boot”.  Timberland has an extensive, creative, and very fashionable women’s boot lineup. 

Another plus is that they have also started catering to youth and even toddlers! My daughter still remembers her first timberland boots, they were the classic yellow style and she started wearing them when she was just 5 years old!

So, the next time you put on your Timberland boots, or go shopping for some new ones, take a moment to reflect on the fascinating history of the boots and what makes them so special and unique!  

Timberland Boots Outfits: How to Wear Timberland Boots

Timberland boots are very versatile. Depending on how you combine them they can be rugged and manly or elegant and feminine. Overall Timberland boots are casual in nature, however, the way you combine them with an outfit is what makes the biggest difference.  

Take a look at our gallery in order to get some inspiring ideas. Notice how the feeling of the boots changes according to the different outfits and can become elegant or rugged accordingly.

Checkout our Gallery Below for ideas and insiration on Timberland Outfits: