Originally designed to handle the harsh elements of a New England winter, Timberland boots have become a staple of hip-hop fashion. As much a part of the culture as bamboo earrings and Kangol hats, the impact of the classic yellow boot is undeniable.
This year, the company is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its original boot with a lineup of special projects, including a Hip-Hop Royalty Collection in honor of hip-hop’s 50th birthday and a program they hope will inspire a new generation of diverse designers.
Timberland is nurturing the next generation of creatives through a series of youth design workshops in partnership with creative lifestyle brand CNSTNT:DVLPMNT. Open to students in grades six through nine, workshops held in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, Charlotte and Boston will teach kids the fundamentals of footwear design. Participants have the unique opportunity to learn directly from Timberland designers as they customize their own versions of the original boot. And at the end of the program, CNSTNT:DVLPMNT and Timberland will choose the best boot design, which they will bring to life at Timberland’s prototyping and maker space, The Shed.
The Root spoke with Chris Dixon, founder of CNSTNT:DVLPMNT and Timberland’s Senior Footwear Designer, about the work he’s doing to introduce kids with an interest in art to a career they may have never dreamed of.
Dixon, who has always loved art, says he started drawing sneakers when he was just 12 years old. “I sketched the shoes I wanted and added my unique twist to the ideas,” he said. “I didn’t know it was a path I could pursue until I was a junior in college studying graphic design.”
A win in a sneaker design contest launched his career in footwear design and now he’s leading the effort to expose more kids of color to the industry. Dixon says by exposing kids to careers in design, he hopes to show them what’s possible.
“I think the reason there is a lack of representation is because of the lack of real education exposure to design and creative careers at a young age,” he said. “It’s hard to be what you don’t see. If young students are able to learn what options they have with their creative or artistic ability, there’s a better chance they can start pursuing their careers early. That is why I try to do my part by sharing my personal story to show it is possible to be what you desire to be creatively.”
Dixon says the workshop markets were chosen specifically because the BIPOC communities in those cities have been instrumental to Timberland’s rise over the past 50 years. “This is a way for us to give back and say thank you,” he said.
While Dixon shares his design knowledge with the students, he says he’s also learned a lot from them, including not to put limits on his imagination. “Their curiosity brings forth so many great ideas,” he said. “They all show so much courage just by showing up and trying something new.”