LONDON – Timberland has tapped upcycling champion Christopher Raeburn, the designer who transforms surplus stock and military cast-offs into snappy fashion collections, as its global creative director, WWD has learned.
The role is a new one, and an announcement is expected today.
“Christopher will be central in helping to bring Timberland’s brand creative vision and purpose to life, not just in our product collections, but in our store environments and marketing — literally every touchpoint we have with the consumer,” said Jim Pisani, global brand president, Timberland.
Pisani called Raeburn “a visionary who shares our ethos of responsibility and who brings to the table a fresh, modern design sensibility. Together we will really push the boundaries of where Timberland can go as a brand, and we’re excited to get started.”
Raeburn will work closely with each brand team to create a collection of Timberland footwear, apparel and accessories, and his first full collection across men’s and women’s wear will be for fall-winter 2020.
Raeburn, whose past collections have been made from materials as diverse as secondhand Russian naval blankets, recycled kites, parachute silks and even an inflatable boat, is also charged with reinforcing Timberland’s commitment to responsible sourcing, inclusivity and community.
The designer, who will mark 10 years in business in 2019, said he took the job for a number of reasons, including Timberland’s openness to change.
“They really want you to push things forward,” Raeburn said in an interview. “I challenged Jim and told him it’s going to have to be comfortable — and uncomfortable. That’s the very nature of the way that I work. It really is about changing things, and innovating. The great news is that Timberland has already done so many good things with the way the product is produced, the quality, the longevity and the craft.”
The designer will continue to be based in London and create his signature collections, in between trips to Timberland’s global headquarters in Stratham, N.H., and its regional headquarters in Stabio, Switzerland, and Hong Kong.
Timberland and Raeburn have already begun to work together on a number of projects, including the brand’s creative vision and a fall-winter 2018 capsule collection that debuted earlier this year at London Fashion Week. It will launch in stores and online on Oct. 25. The capsule encapsulates Raeburn’s threefold approach, with pieces that are remade, reduced and recycled. It spans 28 styles, 11 of them limited-edition.
Pisani said sustainability is an area “where Christopher and Timberland will be able to push one another, and really make some significant and positive impact within the footwear and apparel industry.”
For the capsule, Raeburn scoured street markets and secondhand shops to find vintage Timberland items that he deconstructed and remade into contemporary runway pieces. He employed materials including organic cotton and recycled PET, which is derived from plastic bottles, to create outerwear, trousers, shirts and T-shirts.
“Christopher is recognized worldwide for his responsible and intelligent design ethos and respect for the outdoors, and we’re excited to be able to harness that and together make a real statement within the fashion world,” Pisani said. “As we look to the future of Timberland, we see real synergy between the power of nature and the outdoors, and the incredible energy of fashion.”
Pisani added that Timberland’s parent, VF Corp., has already been doing a lot of work around natural and sustainable materials across its brands. Timberland itself is committed to a host of sustainability goals. By 2020, for example, 100 percent of Timberland’s leather will come from gold or silver-rated LWG tanneries. Today, 93 percent of leather comes from those sources. By that same year, 100 percent of apparel will be sustainably sourced. Today the figure stands at 81 percent.
Raeburn said he sees his own brand and Timberland working to help each other out. “It is about how these two worlds can support one another. We’ve got really big plans for Raeburn going into 2019 and we are looking at how we are building up not just the Raeburn Lab, but stand-alone retail, too. Likewise, we are looking at how to bring all of that community and purpose we have through Raeburn to Timberland. We are very excited.”