Sometimes an image is so good that it renders any text obsolete. Snoopy in the legendary Gucci Tennis from the book to coincide with 1984’s Japanese Snoopy in Fashion exhibition is a perfect case study. Idea Books Instagrammed it this morning and made my day. Even better than Donald Duck in Timbs. Speaking of wheat workboots, a couple of good promo print projects arrived in the post this week — Oi Polloi’s always excellent Pica~Post is back with some extra metal, an interview with Patagonia Alpine Outerwear Christian Regester and Mr. Gary Aspden (it’s heartening to see the low-key looks of the SPEZIAL Ardwick become an object of desire in a world where the same old Technicolor yawns get eBay bids) who really, really went on the campaign trail for his labour of love after years of not doing too many Q&As — Next’s role in casual culture, a picture of Gary with a spaniel and a Preston b-boy crew called Mystic Force makes this amazing. The increasingly prolific David Hellqvist (aka. the Baron) has done a good job with the Document project on the Timberland topic — there’s fashion talk in there, design talk and a really good conversation between my friends Nick Schonberger and Ronnie Fieg on the topic of the brand and its connection to NYC that I loved (sample quote: “Chris Webber used to buy 15 pairs of Timberland at a time”). That’s the kind of insight I want to read when we’re talking about brands that I’m smitten with.
It’s nearly Christmas and — if you recall this blog’s content from Christmases past, you might recall the hate filled lists I used to drop here. I thought about doing one again, but the blog world is already full of folks getting all cynical despite being as obsessed with emperor’s new clothes as much as the next person, so it doesn’t need me doing it too. I think much of what I wrote in previous entries stands anyway — the world is at least 15% more corny and easily impressed than it seemed to be in late 2011. But why piss on people’s picnics? Plus, much of the work i contribute to every day is hardly firing on all cylinders, so I’m not in the position to take potshots right now. It’s still fun to fire off a few though, even if they backfire.
Just because you’re a pro skater and you’re meant to be all artistic and expressive automatically means that you get to contribute to art shows with some lo-fi photography or a nosebleed on a canvas. It also means you get to start a brand as a passion project, which may or may not be utterly unremarkable. If you’re Geoff Rowley, that brand will be awesome and you’ll spend more time punching people in the face for talking shit, making your own jerky and shooting guns in a canyon. CivilWare, launched in the summer, didn’t catch my attention the first time around, because it just seemed to be another simple tee line. The current store inventory includes coffee beans, an axe made with Base Camp X, paper shooting targets and a custom-made knife with Anza Knives. Because it’s Rowley-affiliated, you know that he puts this kind of thing to use, rather than this being some self-aware attempt to reassert masculinity in the era of organic produce and hurt feelings on social media. I’m looking forward to seeing what CivilWare does next.
Here’s a brief Shawn Stüssy interview from 1992 that calls him the “Urban Armani” and includes him shouting out Brand Nubian and discussing the brand’s expansion plans. it’s no the most in-depth discussion, but it belongs here for completist’s sake.
Shouts to Joerg at 032c for letting me write some end of year shoe-related stuff for their site. Getting to big up Olympus Has Fallen onsuch a prestigious platform was quite a privilege.
Whoever decided to switch up “dog” for “gun” in this Timberland newspaper ad from the 1980s makes this promotion more memorable. Timbs beat guns — anyone who ever had that outsole imprinted on their face or chest and lived to tell the tale can concede that it probably beats a bullet in the assault stakes.
While we’re talking axes and weaponry, just like Bad Santa, Home Alone, Gremlins, Father Ted, Scrooged and A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Tales From the Crypt episode And All Through the House is a Christmas necessity — you can see the original EC comic story here (don’t read it if you haven’t watched it yet) and the shorter British adaptation starring Joan Collins from the 1972 film Tales From the Crypt is here. Larry Drake is terrifying in the 1989 version and Fred Dekker and Robert Zemeckis do great things with the source material. I hope Santa brings all of you what you want and doesn’t arrive in the shape of an escaped psychopath…
Nothing to see here tonight — I’ve been too busy to hunt anything worth upping and working on a book and an exhibition has eaten up my evenings this week. Please accept my apologies. In the meantime, here’s a link to an extract of my chat with James Jebbia — Supreme just put out a Timb workboot with a shot on their Instagram of Javier Nunez skating in them. Talk of skating in Timberlands is always cause to up grabs of Kyle James and Brian Wenning in their wheats. Years after I blogged on that topic, I still can’t find that Pepe Martinez Timberland footage from the True Mathematics (coincidentally, I’m sure that shoe god, Chris Hall who owned that brand did some work for Timberland in the last few years) VHS. Who needs iPath when you can skate in something wildly inappropriate? Anyway, seeing as we’re talking interviews with industry kingpins, I interviewed Erik Brunetti for the new issue of ACCLAIM.
The lowest form of blogging is the “look what arrived in the post…” stuff, but I’ll do it here anyway, because it’s an object I’ve loved from afar for a long time. Timberland has cropped up here a few times over the last three years, but with it being their 40th anniversary and them and The Rig Out letting me get involved in the jumpoff for their Limited collection, it’s a good time to talk trees again. This wood box, (complete with a workboot lace and eyelet fastened copy of a hardback 100 page tribute to the original yellow boot) contained a pair of the World Hiker reissue. I know those who know will be tripping out over this one. All eyes will be on the return of the Super Boot aka the 40 Below (a classic from 1979) and the new Super 6″ addition to the pack — a GORE-TEX lined, Vibram soled version of the yellow boot (which I need in my life). But you know those boots well, right? The World Hiker is a 1994 classic that’s like 1988’s (the year that the Beef & Broccoli 5″ Waterproof Hiker first dropped) Euro Hiker on creatine supplements. Fairly light despite the imposing looks and surprisingly comfortable, this was a serious shoe in its day.
The World Hiker name is there for ease-of-use too, because this shoe started life as the top-line part of a four-shoe collection called World Hiker. As far as I know, this shoe is really the World Hiker Up Country Plus Backpacker (with some minor tweaks to the detailing) — the full load use part of the project — which was originally accompanied by the Up Country Hiker, the Front Country Hiker with GORE-TEX and the cheaper Front Country Day Hiker. From the custom-made carbon rubber Vibram outsoles to the technology involved, this was a state-of-the-art line, but the Up Country Plus Backpacker had the rubber rand for reinforcement, hinged forward and rear flex zones, gusseted, locking tongue and the multiple layer footbed that included materials with fancy names like Dri-Lex and Poron.
Now the shoe is made in China rather than the factories of Montebelluna in Italy, I assume that the GORE-TEX has gone and the Pittards buck leather has become a great quality full grain leather, but the shoe still retains its power — it’s still a D-ringed all terrain monster and the fit is better than most other boots on the market. The World Hiker elements symbols are present on the tongue too — wind for windproof a wave for waterproof, earth for anti-abrasion and the sun for temperature sensitivity. Salutes to Timberland for singling this one out for a return (only 1,973 pairs in line with the year the original Timberland boot arrived). Go visit here and read the Rig Out special for a little history of the boots in the collection and some pictures of dudes with beards looking serious.
I want to watch a bootleg copy of the new Ben Affleck film (no Gigli) so this is a rush job. The Timberland brand has been an organisation close to my heart since the notion of amassing £120 for a pair of boots was impossible and I had to settle for CAT. Shit, I even considered Lugz back when Erick Sermon was plugging them in jeans big enough to block out the sun and cause a global rickets crisis, but you always knew you were compromising. For all the ‘Watchdog’ talk of quality or unfounded rumours about them and their enthusiastic hip-hop market, an ad with, say, Das EFX in ‘The Source’ would have ultimately deaded the Timberland brand. I’m not mad at the way it wasn’t all up in the rap press desperately trying to be down (though I still don’t mess with the roll-tops) during my teen years. As Timberland weather approaches and their 40th birthday is impending (though the Abington Boot Company launched 60 years ago), here’s some old Timberland ads. The blocky TIMBERLAND lettering to promote the “Outdoors-Proof Boot” in 1976 shows how the brand design has evolved and the 1979 campaign with a hillbilly family in wheat workbooks that, rather curiously, depicts them as the shoe of the moonshine maker hiding from Treasury Agents, is a gem, complete with a tagline that pre-dates Stella Artois’ “Reassuringly expensive” campaign — “A whole line of fine leather boots that cost plenty, and should.” 1982 was seemingly the year that Timberland declared boat shoe beef with Sperry Top-Sider with shot after shot. Brands didn’t do subliminals back then — shots fired, man overboard! Can I still enter the 1984 sweepstakes for Black & Decker powertools? The copywriting’s pretty solid throughout the 1980’s as GORE-TEX enters the line and the Super Boot era begins. I never realised that it took until 1991 for the brand to drop proper hikers either. I love these ads.
To coincide with the exhibition that’s in Berkeley California right now (though I’m hoping to catch in Boston next April) a full mid-career retrospective book is dropping next month and it looks tremendous and curiously affordable too. The Damiani book from 2009 was substantial, but this 448 page behemoth is something I’m judging by its cover, but you know it’s going to be necessary. Here’s Berkeley Art Museum’s Lawrence Rinder (who, put the book together alongside assistant curator Dena Beard) and Jefferey Deitch talking about Barry McGee. There’s a few more videos on YouTube courtesy of BAMPFA, including an excellent slideshow created by McGee.
This blog has kind of fallen off, self-sabotaged by its attempts to not be a sports footwear-centric WordPress, but then dwelling on the subject matter a little too often. But self-indulgent talk often echoes the day job and in that job shoes figure heavily. Right now, the heat and a lengthy flight from the west coast to the UK has killed my creativity stone dead, but I was energised by a trip to Nike’s WHQ for some work. From my early teens onwards the notion of visiting the Nike Campus sounded like some Willy Wonka business, minus the sinister wig outs on boat rides or bi-polar freak outs that Gene Wilder unleashed on Charlie and his benefit fraud grandfather and having been a few times now, it’s a fun place to visit that seems to deify the same kind of nerdery I tend to celebrate here.
Of course, the work and what lies behind doors remains secret, though the Innovation Kitchen, Nike Sports Research Lab and archives are impressive — in fact the archive is basically a geek ground zero that proves, no matter how much you think you’ve swotted up, you’ve only seen the tip of a dusty, yellowed, PU and nylon based iceberg. Having been lost on campus twice (to get from the Michael Jordan building to the canteen involves walking by a 7 minute saunter by a lake, football pitch and over a bridge), been chased by a goose and slashed my nose open on a low hanging metal lampshade in the archives these last few days, I’ve suffered for my art.
Even if you couldn’t care less for shoes, the scale’s still impressive, but if you follow Nike history, there’s plenty to stare at at — even in the receptions of each building. Bill Bowerman’s waffle iron, the 1984 NBA letter regarding Jordan’s fines, prototype Prestos and AJ1s…it’s a lot to take in. Buying Lunar Montreals and NFL shirts by the trolley from the Employee Store was a good use of dollars too, and ultimately — for the casual visitor — the whole setup’s pretty much a sportswear theme park. For several employees, I’m sure it’s simply a place of work that’s frequently disrupted by gawping idiots like me wielding iPhones.
Because I need sleep, I’ve sold you short here, so here’s three bonus images chucked in because they look cool; one of a 1989 plea to get people on NYC’s subway post graffiti cleanup, one from a 1970s ‘New York’ article and a 1982 Timberland ad.
In the name of nostalgia (because it’s mostly either excessively indulgent or unremarkable in the rap stakes), the same person that uploaded the 1998 ‘World Wide Bape Heads Show’ has uploaded the 1999 one too. It takes me back to a time of attempting to justify wild prices, the Mo’ Wax BB, thick cotton on tees and deranged mark-ups on used gear in Camden market. Musically, I think I actually prefer the Omarion-in-the-lookbook era.
Abercrombie & Fitch is probably the most oppressive retail experience on the planet – Polo Ralph Lauren channelled through a provincial nightclub, with musclebound men at the door for absolutely no reason. But people love it — especially in the UK where people travel far and wide to buy overpriced collegiate tat in dim lighting at a mismatched conversion compared to the US RRP. Do people still buy it in the States? Still, at least it’s not Jack Wills or Superdry, but it still begs a question — why not just buy Polo? In fact, the A&F phenomenon evidently had Ralph shook enough that a mega budget Rugby appeared in Covent Garden recently. Still, A&F’s heritage beats any of the new wave of fictional Americana brands, and it seems that Abercrombie & Fitch stores were awesome once upon a time.
Before they sent anybody with more than 3% body fat or any person with a deformity to a stock dungeon, away from the gaze of misguided teens, and long before they made wildly racist t-shirts, Abercrombie & Fitch were cited as the supplier of the shotgun that Ernest Hemingway used to kill himself in 1961 — but that was discredited many years later. What we do know is that A&F were early suppliers of Timberland’s legendary 40 Below, aka the Super Boot back in 1984. That was an era when they were owned by the mighty Oshman’s, pre-1988, and a time long when the six-packs weren’t a prerequisite.
Oh yeah — can every t-shirt line take a look at No Mas’s plastic-sleeved trading card hangtags that contain all the necessary details that go that little extra? That, my friends, is the difference between journeymen and champions.
Managing to merge two of last year’s significant rap crazes, Texan MC Pyrexx is both caucasian and carrying some serious face ink. After a low-level “Free Pyrexx” campaign he was released from jail last year and promptly got some eyebrow tattoos to rep for Houston’s ABN Gang crew. All eyes are on sweary white ladies at the moment, but I like Pyrexx’s verse on Trae’s excellent ‘Strapped Up.’ Then late last year, Trae tweeted something about him no longer representing ABN — despite having it on his face. Rap fans love rumours. I heard it was about a Yelawolf/Paul Wall diss, but that’s second-hand smoke. Face tattooing an allegiance, then being ousted from that group must be a little problematic (see also, Yung LA), but I can’t help but salute the impulsiveness of it all.
At the weekend a new Pyrexx video emerged, with those eyebrow pieces barely perceptible. Did he get them removed? And to the racist WSHH commentators, the ignorant face tattoo isn’t a black or white issue — it’s a goon thing. As cracker rap goes (what happened to Jeezy’s boy White?), I respect Pyrexx’s decision not to pull wacky faces and wear OBEY caps like most new whiteys on the scene do. On a similar note, I still need to adjust to loose French Montana affiliate B.A.R.S. Murre’s white Max B, Cam-a-like flow. It’s not happening for me after he squandered what could have been an awesome Biggavelli beat, but I liked it when he says “R.I.P. Bob Barker” even though the ‘Price is Right’ presenter’s still alive. He even wears ignorant True Religion denim like the incarcerated king of the wave.
It’s twelve years to the day since Ghostface’s ‘Supreme Clientele’ dropped. Don’t confine that game changer to old man rap status either — team A$AP appreciate the contribution that Ghost put in and it was a unifying overground/underground moment in time. Few rappers upped their game like that (though I have to salute Lloyd Banks for morphing from molasses-sounding punchline-mummy MC into a great artist) — especially considering the dude was so skilled to start with. I remember the minor two month delay after the November 1999 release date in ‘The Source’ and I remember ‘Apollo Kids’ via RealPlayer on defunct sites like Platform.net. Post ‘Immobilarity,’ not caring for Meth and Red’s ‘Blackout!’ and being utterly underwhelmed by ‘The W,’ I would have given up on the Wu entirely without the oddball masterpiece that united rap fans, musos and skaters for a minute. What became of that 50 kid he was dissing on there who’d just been dropped by Columbia? On a more serious note, what became of the brilliantly named Lord Superb after his ghostwriting for Ghost allegations? Happy birthday ‘Supreme Clientele.’ And no, I can’t get excited about a sequel…
Apologies for turning this blog into one of those stone-faced, wordless, image blogs for one night only. That wasn’t my avowed intention. This imagery was way too nostalgic and olde world to leave alone without spotlighting some newness down below. But it fell by the wayside because I got waylaid watching the Crufts 2011 finals (that boxer was robbed, yo) and reading about The Idler magazine’s new Idler Academy in west London. I lost concentration entirely.
All I can offer this evening is what was on my hard drive after I pillaged the ‘Backpacker’ archive for imagery pertaining to outdoor performance between 1973 and 1996. The project never amounted to anything, but I know a few like minds who might get a kick out of it. Hell, there’s plenty of right-clickers who might want to stick ‘em on their Tumblrs and claim them as their own. I don’t care, seeing as I borrowed them from a magazine in the first place.
The Columbia, Du Pont, Vasque, Marmot, Universal and Pivetta ads are particularly strong. In the current climate of outdoorsy one-upmanship (a trend that seems to have stuck), I’ll take this copy-heavy, utilitarian focus over the fey drivel that’s inappropriately applied to rugged gear throughout the blog world. I’ve been fixating on the Thinsulate labelling lately as one of my favourite pieces of branding. It’s democratic too compared to the steep price tags on steep incline wear that bears another personal favourite — the GORE-TEX tab.
Beyond the official North Face hookups, I loved Supreme’s woolly hat homage to the Thinsulate branding (not to be mistaken for the Thinsulate Supreme technology) in the vein of their Patagonia tributes.
Normal windy, wordy and pretentious service should resume next week.
Speedy blog day, so you’re spared 1000 words of nothingness in favour of something less windy. This weekend I stand corrected, to paraphrase Lil’ Fame, “Like an orthopedic shoe” as I’ve spent a long, long time assuming the near-legendary 40 Below Timberland boot was the Super Boot, harking back to the late ’80s (87?) in the pebbled leather with the Vibram lug sole – later adopted into the Iditarod range, presumably linked to the brand’s sponsorship of the Trail Sled Dog Race.
High cut, heavyweight and recently reissued with an ALIFE co-sign, the next level of the shoe was the ’92 Iditarod Super Boot that took the original’s Thinsulate lining and doubled the quantity. Mr. Ronnie Fieg, the Queens-born man behind NYC retailer David Z’s SMUs (including a fleece-lined Work Boot with a Jim Jones co-sign) – a store chain that’s been pushing big boots to native New Yorkers for a long, long time (remember kids, Red Wings are nothing new) just made a blog addition of some celebrity visits to the store from over the years – it’s worth squinting beyond the clients and taking a look at past wall offerings.
After Ronnie put his 40 Belows, with a GORE-TEX lining up, I discovered that they weren’t standard Super Boots (‘Super Tims’ to some DC heads apparently), but Super Guide Boots (on the left of the above image) introduced in the late ’80s too – he doesn’t consider the original Super Boot a 40 Below. As a Brit who obsessed over the east coast’s apparel and footwear picks via The Source and LP sleeves, from a serious distance it was an interesting discovery. Were there borough differences in the definition of a 40 Below?
The Super Guide Boot has the triple density sole and the waterproof properties alongside the Thinsulate – visually, it’s a more appealing shoe, but slightly cheaper than the Super Boot which presumably got a markup on ruggedness alone. 2Pac wears a pair of original Super Boots as Bishop in ‘Juice’ – how the hell he could leap between buildings without superpowers in them is a mystery, and Timberland fountain-of-knowledge Dallas Penn keeps dropping gems in his ‘Boot Camp Clique Chronicles’. He knows the style numbers and even alludes to the Guide Boot in this entry. Speaking of ‘Pac – would he have made that Kryptonite jump in the Super Pac Boot?
An example jewel of knowledge, “The Timberland style came from Harlem as well as Northface did. Brooklyn cats at the time were on their Fila-Prince-Le Coq Sportif shit. Harlem’s style back then was flashy too in it’s own right. Roof Of The World coats were wildly popular and pretty expensive. If Paragon was sold out then you had to go to Tents & Trails in lower Manhattan. For Timberland shoes though I always fuxed with Paragon. Polotron loved McReedy & Schreiber. To each his own.”
Dallas even threatens to break out the mythical ’60 Below’ in his most recent Timb-centric chapter. The whole Abington sub-brand is pumping out olde world styles, but it would be good to see the real Timberland line documented and reissued with the same build quality that gave the brand its rep with the help of obsessives like Dallas and Ronnie. Personally the only inline piece that still brings it is the “Beef-N-Broc” GORE-TEX Field Boot Mid – in the current climate, it feels like the only logical boot of choice. I’ve tried messing with the PRO line for that invincible feel, but they were heavy, ugly and painful. I respect the Ever-Guard leather though. Looking at the new Imam Thug/CNN footage, big boots and camo haven’t, at time-of-blogging, been superseded in Lefrak by APC New Cures and Vans Eras, regardless of what mixtape art jpegs would have you believe. However, I’m still not 100 percent sure what defines a 40 Below…which renders this blog entry pretty pointless.
“The Timbo hits with the prints underground/Timbos on the toes, I love the way it’s goin’ down”
This was originally going to be a study of supposedly MIA Dogtowner Chris Cahill, until I realised there wasn’t enough information for me to add anything to the Cahill mythos that wasn’t already out there. Ah, if only more bloggers out there threw in the towel when they realise the extent to which they’re out their depth. Still, there’s a blog to be written, skating lore is on the brain, and you can’t beat a good pair of Timbs on the feet.
I kind of liked Timberland when they were accused of racism – at least they weren’t haplessly trying to crossover, meaning that in a curious way, their longevity was guaranteed, and people were foolhardy enough to think that throwing on some Lugz or North Faces instead was the answer. Wrong. The brand’s vastest misstep lately has been to embrace street culture a little too whole-heartedly, some might say, over-compensating for their earlier attitude, with a plethora of lurid colours, rolltops and varsity fonts. The Workboot should be kept clean.
Alife know what time it is – their version stuck to the wheaty script (their 40 Belows were bananas too, and true to the original), Colette knew the correct colour to maintain; they didn’t paint ’em black like George Costanza (though they used leather akin to the 2003 anniversary variations), and the David Z joints with a fleece lining were inspired. That’s as far as modifications need to go. At present we’re assailed by work and hiking boot talk – hand stitched soles, made in the USA, Japan-only line…yada, yada, yada…you’ve all sent me full circle. Fuck it. Give me a sweatshop-made staple. No fuss. No availability issues. Minor break-in time. Iconic design. Thank you. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the wheat Timberland 7-hole boot. Some deride them for being so ubiquitous. That’s the point…they’re a staple. Build quality isn’t what it used to be either, but yo, that’s applicable across-the-board. If you’re living in a new-build home, you can probably hear next-door’s hamster snoring through the House-Of-Miyagi-thin walls.
Skate shoe styles may have become theatrically wide – padded loaves of bread with tubular laces in recent years prior to a necessary pare-down, but nothing tops the legend of folk skating in workboots. Before discussing the tree-logoed Massachusetts brand, think back to a more innocent time, when a vert skater like New Zealander Lee Ralph could appear from nowhere, as if he were a defrosted caveman, shred it, invent some tricks and spend a whole contest wearing full-height cherry-coloured Dr. Martens on his feet. Consider the sport’s embers of non-conformist attitude burning at the time, and that punk rock spirit, and while they’re a strange choice of performance shoe, they made a curious sort of sense on the late ’80s. At the turn of the ’90s, nothing had the level of impact on street skating that H-Street’s truly unshackled ‘Hokus Pokus’ did, and Matt Hensley defined the style of the decade to follow with that hair, mid-cut shoes like Vans Chukkas, the shorts and socks, chain wallets, and occasionally, skating in a pair of Dr. Martens shoes. A bold move, and while everything else got cloned, the shoes seemed impractical enough to avoid cloning.
Laughing in the face of board feel, a Dr. Marten isn’t the ideal skateboarding shoe. Air Wear and oil resistant soles aren’t built with that occupation in mind, and to wear them to skate is showboating; self-inflicted footwear adversity that still can’t hinder your footwork. Sit the two together, and the Air Wear number is a Vans Era compared to the bulk of the Timbo, and that weight that makes you feel like you’ll have Popeye forearm calves within a week of wear.
Tales of Tom Penny brought the Timberland as a skate shoe to my attention. Hearing tales of Oxfordshire-born Tom ripping it on a mini-ramp in Timbs and a leather jacket fired my imagination. Tom was a practitioner of baggy garments, but this was next level. Maybe it was all the magic mushrooms, but it seemed like the behaviour of a true style master – which is actually the case. But alas, along came Mr. Don Brown and Franck Boistel in a 2007 issue of Transworld to rain on the parade, by rendering the Timbo-talk moot with some brand facts. Tom’s supposed Timbo turned out to be a different brand, and if tales are to be believed, on close inspection, they were more akin to the moc-toed City Escape efforts that the 6in Boot…
“All the while, Stateside, rumors of Tom’s whereabouts and exploits circulated like old wives’ tales. One such rumor, which in fact turned out to be true, was Tom’s decision to send a torn and tattered Timberland boot to éS as the model for what was to be his first pro-model shoe. Apparently, Tom had taken to skating solely in the same pair of Timbos for nearly a year-obviously, much to the amazement of those around him. Don Brown, senior VP of marketing at Sole Technology explains, “Penny went through one of his many vanishing missions in England, and eventually he was spotted at South Bank in London, kind of raggedy looking and rocking a pair of Timberland boots with a small heel. He basically closed down the session and left everyone in typical Tom Penny amazement-not just from his amazing lazy style and perfection, but from that fact that he did everything in a pair of Timberland boots!”
After being repeatedly asked by Sole Technology for some direction on his first pro shoe to be, Tom eventually sent in one of those very boots. Former Sole Technology Designer Franck Boistel elaborates, “For the record, I think Don Brown brought the boot to us. We were asking Tom if he wanted to design a shoe for years. Then we got this beat-up Timberland that Tom obviously skated in. You could see tons of tear and wear on the ollie area and the bottom was falling apart. We nonetheless did come up with some sketches.” The craziest thing about it all? That forever-rumored and all-over-the-message-board lore proved wrong. It wasn’t even a Timberland at all-it was a Columbia hiking boot.”
Fuck it. Never let the truth get in the way of a good yarn. Tom’s technical éS model still had shades of Timberland in the mix. Watching ‘Deathbowl To Downtown’ features some blink-and-you’ll-miss-it real-deal Timberland skating in the mix. It’s an NYC and Washington DC thing. Champion sweats were as integral a piece of skate attire as they were hip-hop, and even skate kids in the north of England were jocking ACG sneakers beyond the board. While some clueless marketeer will leave a snail trail in excitement over the notion of a crossover, there certainly was a meeting point perfected in the ’90s. It seemed pleasantly fitting yet functionally illogical that Timberland would be skated – fuck, they’re hard enough to keep crispy at the best of times, but ollied and kickflipped? Maybe that D.M. punk spirit hadn’t forsaken skateboarding at all. There was Pepe Martinez (R.I.P.) rocking a pair for a whole section in Chris Hall’s 1996 ‘True Mathematics’ video, and witness Kyle James ripping the Brooklyn Banks in a pair of butters circa. 1997.
Other occasional exponents of the world’s flyest, yet utterly inappropriate pick of skate shoe include Drake Jones, Greg Stewart, a pre-prison Ali Boulala and Brian Wenning. Ah yes. Brian Wenning. After being ejected from DC, he appeared on a clip a year ago rocking Timbs and a cycle helmet at a park – the helmet may have been a gag we weren’t privvy to, but initial perceptions saw the helmet negate the inherent gnarliness of the boots, making the whole act pointless. As is the 21st century malady, there was too much information as Brian went on homemade internet video talking brand beefs, smoking a cigarette like a blunt and bragging about skating in Timberlands. There lay the mistake. Not the slow nicotine tokes. Not even the helmet, but talking too much about his choice of footwear and killing the mystery in one outburst. Cheers Brian.
While Timb-alike Uptowns are a given, don’t forget the skate shoes that carry elements of the boot as the key to their appeal; from the light brown Airwalk NTS (tenuous), to the 2002 SB Wheat/Bison Dunk Hi, Globe’s dull mid-cut effort, the ill Dunk Mid that took a more direct makeup lift, to DC and Situationormal getting their beef and broccoli on, but for all the fuss, the best lift came in the shape of a special colourway of Chad Muska’s Skytop – that size makes them feel like a direct descendent. As soon as Tom Penny decided to return to skating, it’s telling that he picked his friend Chad’s Supra brand as his footwear sponsor – while his pro-model is arguably the simplest in the whole line (and a low-cut), those February 2008 ads with him in fine form promoting the lofty Vaider silhouette, it all made a certain sense