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  • ELIZABETH SEGRAN

Timberland and Jimmy Choo’s new boot collection is an ode to feminine Black style

Designer Shanel Campbell designed four boots inspired by New York City female style icons.


[Photo: Timberland x Jimmy Choo]


As a stylish New Yorker, fashion designer Shanel Campbell has spent her entire life wearing Timberlands. Growing up in the Bronx, practically every member of her family had a pair of the camel-colored nubucks, incorporating them into their own personal aesthetic. “It’s a staple of New York City culture,” she says.


[Photo: Timberland x Jimmy Choo]

Today, Timberland and luxury shoe brand Jimmy Choo are launching a collection of four stunning boots, designed by Campbell. These shoes are significantly more expensive than typical Timberland boots, with prices starting at $795, and target the luxury consumer. For the collection, Campbell focused on how Black culture helped transform Timberland from workwear to streetwear, and how iconic Black women helped evolve it a step further, into high fashion. “My goal was to honor Black female style icons who never got their flowers,” says Campbell.


[Photo: Timberland x Jimmy Choo]


Two years ago, Timberland and Jimmy Choo launched their first partnership, which featured sparkly boots. That collection was a success, says Drieke Leenknegt, Timberland’s CMO, partly because it brought the boots to a wider female audience around the world. She says Timberland’s boots had always been popular among fashion-forward women, particularly those in New York City; so this time, the two brands decided to bring in Harlem’s Fashion Row, an organization that connects brands with designers of color. This led them to Campbell, who had a particularly astute insight into Timberland’s place in modern fashion. Trained in fashion design at Philadelphia University and Parson’s School of Design, Campbell now runs her own brand, Bed on Water.


[Photo: Timberland x Jimmy Choo]


Timberland, which is based in New Hampshire, first developed its iconic yellow boot in 1973 to serve construction workers, lumberjacks, and other laborers who needed protection against the harsh elements. Leenknegt says that the boots eventually made their way down I-95 to New York City in the late 1980s, as retailers introduced them in stores.


New York rappers and hip hop artists started wearing them, styling them in creative new ways, often with more expensive accessories. In some ways, they were a provocative fashion statement, co-opting the dress of the working class and pairing them with luxury labels. By the ’90s and 2000s, everyone in the City wanted to wear them.


[Photo: Timberland x Jimmy Choo]


Of course, Black artists have influenced footwear across the country, but Timberlands were particularly suited to life in New York because they can be worn in the harsh, snowy winters, unlike sneakers. “We’ve always placed function over form,” Leenknegt says. “This worked well in New York, where the weather gets cold and people walk everywhere.”


Campbell says that because the look was popularized by rappers, who have a highly masculine style, people tend to think of them as part of a more masculine look. But she says there have always been Black women who have elevated the aesthetic, giving it a fashion-forward spin. As she was doing research to design the collection, she focused on Lil’ Kim, Kelis, and Mary J. Blige, each of whom came from different New York City boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, respectively). She also looked at the work of Misa Hylton, who styled many of these women over the last decades. “Each of them wore Timberlands at some point,” Campbell says. “Looking at their style, you can see how they translate the Timberlands into a super feminine shoe.”


[Photo: Timberland x Jimmy Choo]


Each of the shoes in this collection is a celebration of fierce, unapologetic femininity. There are boots that are bright pink and glittery gold. There’s a high heel covered in gold Swarovski crystals. One striking style is a knee-high boot made of patent leather that laces up. And in a gender-bending twist, some of the campaign imagery features men wearing these feminine styles.


The collection is an ode to Black women’s style and traces their contribution to the broader fashion world. It launches around the world today at select Timberland and Jimmy Choo stores as well as both websites.












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