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.