Timberland Adds A Twist, Crowdsources Crafty Boot Line

Timberland is out to become a digital cobbler, crowdsourcing three new product lines destined for urban feet this fall. 

The company is working with Betabrand, a crowdsourcing company, on a collection it’s calling Craftletic, which is starting out with 14 styles across the three unisex boot categories. In a video explaining the line, it describes the effort as an attempt to blend the maker movement-inspired idea of craft with the performance of athletic shoes, putting all the ideas through a community vote. 

The two-phase process starts with consumers voting on the concepts, called Modern Nomad, Urbanization and Neorganic, through March 17, including materials, colors and whether it should be made for men, women or both.



Winning designs then move into the prototype and crowdfunding phase: Fans will be asked to bid on the final versions of the footwear they voted on, and then bid on the shoes. If demand is high enough, the New Hampshire-based company says it will move that model into production.

It’s been a challenging time for the brand, owned by apparel conglomerate VF Corp. (It’s also the parent of the North Face, Vans, Lee and Wrangler, among others.) In its most recent quarterly results, it says Timberland’s brand revenue fell 4%, with warmer weather putting the brakes on boot sales. 

Separately, Timberland says it is launching a national tour of its “KOMBIT: The Cooperative,” a documentary about the company’s ambitious program with the Smallholder Farmers Alliance to help reforest Haiti. In partnership with Film Sprout, it plans to screen the story with nonprofits, universities and other partners in 250 communities in the U.S.

The project grew out of 2010 promise to help plant 5 million trees, part of a Clinton Global Initiative. Kombit is Haitian Creole for a community working together, and the film follows the program, which so far has put some 5.2 million trees in the ground by working with the country’s 2.1 million farmers. The project is now producing about 1 million trees each year.

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