Style.No.Chaser paid a visit to Timberland’s offices in downtown NYC to take in the brand’s distinctive heritage as well as glimpse pieces from the upcoming season. The modern and green-conscious space is what you would expect an iconic brand’s NY office to look like, but only that it was ten times better. Complete with museum-like timelines of Timberland’s 40 year history on the wall, and a showroom showcasing a treasure trove of historic and current footwear and clothing, the ambiance was captivating. Fashionistas could live there.
One thing that was vividly apparent, other than the illuminating revelation that you could find a pair of Timberland shoes for every taste level, function and occasion, is the irrefutable fact that the brand truly understands its core. Timberland representatives explained that although the brand is definitely currently experiencing a palpable resurgence, they don’t consider this a fad or a fluke. They view it as the recognition and affirmation that well-constructed and thoughtful design with integrity will always win.
VF Corporation, a global leader in branded lifestyle apparel, acquired Timberland in September 2011 for about $2.2 billion. VF Corporation also owns Wrangler, North Face, Vans, Reef, Jansport, Eastpak, etc. and viewed the Timberland acquisition as a way to add to its Outdoor & Action Sports coalition. We got a sense that since the acquisition, creative freedom within Timberland has been expanded. This is evident in the versatility and vastness of the brand’s current offerings. We are not sure if designers have been given carte blanche by VF, but we did sense a level of good and creative autonomy.
It was also evident that there has been some soul searching within the brand. This has led to the realization that the ongoing revival was somewhat organically initiated by patrons who rediscovered that the reason they loved Timberland in the first place was because their pieces are authentic and made well. The staff stressed that some die hard loyalists never strayed, but the spike in demand is in a big way due to the nostalgia that the brand inspires. There were stories about a younger demographic appreciating and acquiring iconic Timberland styles because their Dad, big brother or favorite neighborhood kid used to religiously wear Timberlands. These memories are embedded in all our minds. It all made a lot of sense to us. Of course, it does not hurt that mega-stars like Jay Z, Beyonce, 50 Cent, Kanye, Ryan Leslie, etc. have been loyal consumers of the brand keeping it firmly in pop culture.
We tried to assess who Timberland’s target demographic really is by throwing pointed questions about specific styles and the brand’s direction. We got very sincere answers that made us understand that Timberland wants to be a brand for all – men, women, young, old, workers (blue and white collar), adventurists, hobbyists, etc. The styles of the footwear and clothing apparel underscored this fact. It is difficult to silo this brand. Thoughtful designs that pay attention to traction, insulation, comfort, function, support, versatility and style open it up to every audience.
Timberland’s Spring and Fall 2014 collections are made up of a considerate array of footwear and apparel primarily from their Abington and Earthkeepers divisions. Chukkas, Oxfords, Boat Shoes, Boots, etc. give patrons exponential options. Also on display in many of the footwear is Timberland’s registered Sensorflex technology that focuses on comfort through strategic layering and flexibility features. Worthy of note in the apparel category are the Heritage Rugged LTD bomber jacket and the Scar Ridge parka that scream “Own Me”.
Timberland clearly has its priorities in order. The employees are passionate about product offerings and the strategic direction of the company. The “Core” of Timberland’s essence is what the products portray – “well-made footwear and apparel with thoughtful, functional and subtle design characteristics.”
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