It’s been 50 years since the birth of hip-hop, a captivating fusion of poetry, beats and soul that first sprouted its roots in the Bronx, New York. Since its birth, the genre has grown like wildfire, igniting the imagination of generations and breaking barriers with its raw, unapologetic voice. And just as the soundscape of hip-hop evolved, so came its companion: Timberland his boots, a footwear legend that has carved its mark on the essence of hip-hop.
In a perfectly crafted rhyme, Timberland boots have followed the rise of hip-hop. Introduced in 1973, the rugged durability and unmistakable style of these iconic boots have made them synonymous with the hip-hop movement, adorning the feet of pioneers, trendsetters and artists. From the bustling streets of Brooklyn to the star-studded stages of Los Angeles, Timberland seamlessly blends form and function with unmistakable majesty, establishing her authority on urban fashion.
Hip-hop and Timberland both celebrate their 50th anniversary this year, making them the first traditional shoe brand to officially acknowledge their affiliation with a musical genre. To mark this milestone, Timberland has released the ‘Hip Hop Loyalty’ boot, designed by entrepreneur and senior footwear designer for Timberland’s Advanced His Concepts + Energy, Christopher Dixon.
“It’s a new chapter for Timberland,” Dixon said in an interview with theGrio. “[The brand has] I never really celebrated hip hop [even though] A brand inspired by hip hop. And I feel privileged to be a black designer who isn’t a space where many of us can truly share these stories. ”
“Just thinking about next year’s synergies, I was like, oh, this is our 50th anniversary.” [the hip-hop community] and Timberland. It was exciting, but it was also daunting. Because I know it’s hip-hop and I don’t want to ruin it,” Dixon continued, explaining his thought process when designing his Tribute boots. “Like, 1 in 50 he won’t come twice.”
In addition to releasing boots that represent the four pillars of hip-hop: MC, DJ, breakdance and graffiti, Timberland honors the community values embedded in hip-hop culture. In addition to products, the legacy shoe brand has partnered with Dixon’s lifestyle brand CNSTNT:DVLPMNT to create a creative community initiative that empowers young designers of color. The Timberland x CNSTNT:DVLPMNT Youth Footwear Design Workshop Series, held in various cities across the United States, invites students in grades 6 through 9 to create their own version of the iconic 6-inch work boot while learning about Timberland. Learn the fundamentals of footwear design directly from a designer at
“I have a lot of kids like me, so it’s kind of like giving back to my younger self,” Dixon said. “Quiet kids who don’t want to talk too much, but put paper and pen in front of them and they’ll tell you everything that’s in their hearts and minds. And where not to scribble in class.” You may be doodling in , but here you are letting your students know that they can do it as much as they want, and in fact, if they keep following their passion, they can make it their job. , you can receive money in return.”
Dixon’s relationship with shoe design began early, when young sneakerheads were drawing shoes they dreamed of but couldn’t afford. A few years later, in the process of completing his design degree in graphic design, Dixon discovered footwear design as his career path and eventually developed Pensole Footwear Design, part of Pensole Louis College of Business & Design. attended the academy. This is a hands-on program for aspiring designers in product creation. industry. Remembering that his experience led him to his eventual career, Dixon wondered what his life would have been like had he discovered the potential of his footwear design career earlier. I couldn’t help but wonder.
“I achieved my goal, but I thought back to myself when I was younger and thought, ‘Oh, if I had known this information sooner, maybe [would’ve] I had a smoother road to get to where I wanted to be,” he said. “The idea made me want to make a product, but I also wanted to have a purpose.”
A 2022 study found that only 3% of designers in the industry identify as black, compared to 70% of white designers. With this in mind, Dixon and other black shoe designers are committed to actively focusing on a generation eager to follow in their footsteps. Founded by Dr. Dwayne Edwards, former footwear design director at Jordan Brand and Nike, Pensole is billed as a “pipeline HBCU for career education and professional development in the product creation industry.” His DiverCity x DESIGN, a program within the Pensole Academy, is interracial in the industry by offering designers of color the opportunity to receive cutting-edge training from his Timberland, Vans and other footwear industry leaders. We are committed to closing the wealth gap in
Just as Edwards mentored Dixon early in his career, Dixon is committed to mentoring and supporting succeeding Pensole designers. For example, Diversity x Design program graduates Gaganjit Singh and Jesús Mendes each were mentored by Dixon during their rotations at Timberland before going on to work full-time with the brand. One of Dixon’s mentors, Singh, understands the responsibilities of being a Pensor graduate.
When asked about the lack of diversity in the industry, Singh said, “That motivates me.” “And I’m sure that will be the motivation.” [other DiverCity x DESIGN alumni] Doing our part to reach out to others and make sure they know that’s what Chris and Dwayne really preach. They said, “reach one, teach one.” ”
This mantra resonates deeply as both hip-hop and Timberland continue to reach and teach new generations. Dixon looks back on his 50th anniversary milestone for Timberland and describes its importance as a celebration of the past, present and future.
“It’s kind of like a trinity, thinking about the past, the present, the future, and how we can celebrate all three at the same time,” Dixon said. “We just honor the past and be in the present with the designs we are making for the future. We provide a platform to share the future.”
Fifty years later, Timberland boots continue to reflect the essence of hip-hop culture. And just as hip-hop continually reinvents itself, pushes boundaries and challenges norms, Timberland remains at the forefront of style, staying true to tradition while continuing to evolve. Adapting.
Haniya Philozin is a multimedia storyteller and multicultural lifestyle reporter. With her passion for digital media, she works harder than ever to find new ways to tell and share her stories.
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