Beauty in the Eye of the Bootholder: David Hellqvist
We’ve invited some of the most influential stylists, menswear designers and editors to guest-write for us here on the Bootmakers Blog. Here’s David Hellqvist, Online Editor at PORT Magazine sharing his thoughts about the history and inspiration that came with his pair of Timberland Abington Work Boots.
Inspiration is in the eye of the beholder. It’s not exactly how the old saying goes, but it is equally true. Especially in all creative fields and when there’s a journalist (me) involved, interpreting and translating what we see, trying to reference pieces and themes, putting them in a context that I and others will understand. Hopefully.
That’s what happened when I first got my Timberland Abington 6″ Work Boots. In my eyes, the olive suede boots – 6013R if you want the proper colour code – were inspired by US army boots. It was something about how the suede mixed with the British Millerain canvas on the ankles that made me think of the USMC boots, worn by Marines all over the world. Clearly, the Abington appeared to a be a rarified version; the luxe Charles F. Stead suede, the white Vibram soles and subtle piping details made it obvious that this was a boot made for Hackney, not Hanoi.
Initially it was this connection that attracted me to the boots; all quality sportswear have elements of military utility details incorporated at one point. Why? The level of functionality and craftsmanship involved in producing military RAT gear (Rugged All Terrain) is superior. Take away all of the nasty and depressing downsides that comes with the military per definition, and you are left with one of the best sources of sartorial inspiration ever.
But. Having done a bit of research into the Abington 6″ Work Boot I soon realised that its humble beginnings was not a desert battlefield, but a mill in New England. The boot was modeled on the kind of protection gear workers “wore during their long, demanding shifts.” And that was it, my dream of wearing US Marine Crops boots shattered. But then it hit me; after army-influenced equipment, what’s the next best thing? What other category of professionals need and use hardened boots and state of the art protection gear? Workers, the people who gave us workwear!
The history and heritage of these workers go way back; mill towns and factory villages began developing in the Northeastern corner of the US from early to mid 19th century. Centered around New England, the factories manufactured steel products like saws, ploughs, cutlery, axes and guns, but textiles were also a big part of the production line.
It was the men who worked these factories who inspired my boots. And their need of footwear and clothing that kept them safe and dry is as an important source of inspiration today as any army gear, and rightfully so. There’s something noble about going back in time, looking at what honest blue collar artisans wore, and how that can be translated into a 21st century wardrobe. Having read about the factories, I’m fine with wearing New England mill-inspired boots. I can always pick up a pair of Delta Force boots next time around.