Just last week, it revealed it had tapped Jessica Chang, the recent Parsons School of Fashion graduate who snagged first place at this year’s Redress Design Awards, to create a capsule collection using zero-waste and upcycling techniques. In June, it previewed a global take-back program. Two months earlier, it introduced plans to pilot its first regenerative rubber footwear in 2023.
On Thursday, the VF Corp.-owned brand took another step toward establishing its eco-friendly credentials with the launch of its first GreenStride boot after 18 months in development.
Timberland’s lightweight GreenStride soles are made from a 75 percent combination of renewable sugarcane and “responsibly sourced” rubber for the “highest bio-based content in the industry right now,” Erin Bradt, senior designer of women’s footwear at Timberland, told Sourcing Journal at the GreenStride launch event Wednesday.
The “eco-innovation” will come in multiple new styles, including GreenStride Solar Ridge Waterproof Hikers, GreenStride TBL Originals Ultra Waterproof Boots and GreenStride Edge 6-Inch Waterproof Boots for men; and GreenStride Ray City 6-Inch Waterproof Boots and GreenStride Edge 6-Inch Waterproof Boots for women.
“We go through an extensive fit process to make sure [the boots] are comfortable for the consumer,” Bradt told Sourcing Journal. The trend toward comfort above else is “in our favor right now,” she added, noting how the GreenStride women’s styles’ “rugged silhouettes make women feel really powerful and capable.”
“Our designers worked tirelessly on these progressive new styles that are built to perform in the outdoors, from the city to the trail and back again,” Chris McGrath, vice president of global footwear design for Timberland, said in a statement. They’re lightweight, waterproof and ready for anything.”
The GreenStride boots launched Thursday with the GreenStride Solar Ridge. Other styles are scheduled to follow next month. The launch will be supported by a global, digital-first campaign featuring journalist and “All of the Above” co-host Sophia Li, Ghetto Gastro co-founder Jon Gray, L.A. creative Rickey Y Kim, “botanical sculptor” Olivia Rose and Flock Together, a London birdwatching collective of avian aficionados and people of color.
Timberland’s GreenStride boots are not the only eco-friendly styles in the brand’s pipeline. Next spring, it plans to launch a “city hiker” designed specifically for circularity. The Timberloop Trekker will feature a “unique” sole construction that will allow for the outsoles to be easily removed at a partner facility and for each part to then go into its own unique recycling stream.
Timberland CMO Drieke Leenknegt, who previously spent two decades at Nike, emphasized the growing focus on circularity, which she says calls for simplifying shoe design with end of life in mind. “Design[ing] for disassembly” requires natural, environmentally friendly components compatible with take-back programs tasked with converting waste products into new salable goods, she told Sourcing Journal at the event.
Innovating for the future while maintaining consumer expectations isn’t easy, but Leenknegt said GreenStride checks both boxes. The sole technology treads more lightly on the planet while making the boots “more comfortable and responsive,” she added.
Once consumers discovered that lightweight comfort is possible, “they will never go back,” she said.
Additional reporting by Jessica Binns.