We recently met Timberland’s vice president of global marketing Argu Secilmis and British designer and jack-of-all-trades Christopher Raeburn and the outcome of their f/w ’18 men’s apparel collaboration. Raeburn, whose label of the same name is synonymous with responsible, intelligent fashion design, uses the same ethos and standards working for Timberland. The three key pillars of the Timberland x Christopher Raeburn collection are remaking, reducing and recycling. The designer presents runway pieces remade from original 1980s classic Timberland outerwear–sourced in flea markets and vintage shops–which have been deconstructed and reconstructed to make completely new archetypes. The output is a limited edition and a mainline men’s apparel collection which is to be launched worldwide this fall.

How does it come that a designer with this as severe as clear ethos works together with a share-held, global acting outdoor lifestyle brand like Timberland?

Christopher Raeburn (CR):
For years I am in business and have worked together even with small or big brands, but the key component always was to collaborate with the best in business. So working with Timberland was a natural step and it is a real honor to work with such a visible and global brand.


But isn’t a bigger business always less sustainable?
CR:
It depends on the intention: Timberland is open in what they are doing well and where they need help. So this is a great opportunity to pioneer, because if we work together Timberland is part of the solution, so this makes sense in many levels. 

Christopher Raeburn limited collection for Timberland
Photo: Timberland
Christopher Raeburn limited collection for Timberland

Argu Secilmis (AS): First of all, Timberland is an iconic brand and our goal is to bring the brand’s purpose to life by creating responsible products in an innovative and forward-thinking way. Timberland always has to redefine who we are, so this collaboration is a perfect match, because everything we do is about making it better. Today, 80% of our footwear is already recycled, but we want to move forward and we are learning a lot from Christopher in this subject.   


How long does it take to change existing processes in such a big company as Timberland is?
CR:
It depends… When I am looking for organic material you don’t have to change your processes, because this material still exists. I think it is more a question of willingness!


What about the consumer? Does he have the willingness to change his habits?
CR:
My experience is: our community – I do not use the word consumer on purpose – is changing. For example in the UK there was this breathtaking digital project on BBC “Our blue planet” which banished 20 million people to their TV screens – seeing this changed people. My interest as a designer is not just what happened, but also what is happening afterwards and a big brand and a small brand working together as we do it in this collaboration gives us an amazing agility, because we are pushing each other.

Christopher Raeburn limited collection for Timberland
Photo: Timberland
Christopher Raeburn limited collection for Timberland

AS: Working with Christopher we have changed our communication from consumer centric to community centric. There is no longer the consumer on one side and the brand on the other. It is more about how peak you are and how you let your voice be heard. Our community is divided into three groups – the urban consumer, the outdoor consumer and the so called new generation is distinctively the consumer we want to communicate. That is why we invest in social media, events like Zalando’s Bread && Butter, influencer campaigns and so on.

Timberland at Bread & Butter
Photo: Timberland
Timberland at Bread & Butter

CR: There are so many choices how people invest their time, their awareness, and the more and more they use phones and mails, people need to calm down. That is why we want to bring the outdoor, the nature inside. That’s what it is all about. I think as a designer you have an obligation to consider what you are doing and why; ultimately we want to make strong, sustainable choices that provide our community with a completely unique and desirable product. We want to shift the community’s mindset. 

AS: And we want to make us better! We have the responsibility to change and to protect our nature and to bring people back to outdoor. Timberland, as a part of VF group’s brand portfolio, is a big voice and on that point we have an impact!



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