For 21-year-old Taylor Bennett, being true to himself is something that comes naturally, and with his new Timberland x Footaction collab, he’s excited to be releasing a collection true to his Chi-Town roots.
Younger brother of Chance the Rapper, Bennett is no newcomer to wearing Timberlands. The “Broad Shoulders” rapper recalls shopping with his mom as a kid for the “one to wear” shoes, his go-to style of choice thanks to the influence of his inner-city surroundings. “Timberlands are not just something that can protect you from the weather or the cold and snow, but also something that’s stylish,” he told Billboard Style. “You can wear Timberlands practically anywhere and you’re kind of a stylish icon. They’re a very durable and concrete shoe and always have been.”
The collection includes two boot styles — the 6″ Brogue and EH DB in “Chocolate Truffle” — hoodies and tees, and the pieces are set to release Nov. 9 online and at select Footaction locations.
We caught up with Bennett to get all the details of the upcoming collection and how his upbringing influences his design choices.
How did the relationship start or opportunity come for you to create something with Timberland x Footaction?
Timberland and Footaction have always been very important to me. Growing up in Chicago as well as in New York, Timberlands are a really big deal, and it’s always been a very cool thing to be able to get them. I remember even at an early age, me and Chance [the Rapper] going shopping with my mom up at the 87th Street strip mall, and there was a Footaction there. We would always go in and grab Timberlands because they were the “one to wear” type thing. We would even wear them through the summer, believe it or not. In Chicago, you’ll catch kids playing basketball in them, literally. It’s a big thing there and I know Footaction relates, especially in NY. You know how New Yorkers love their Timberlands. [laughs]
How is this collab different from others you’ve done?
It’s definitely [mostly] a shoe thing, I guess that’d be first. But secondly, it’s Timberland — it’s the brand; the brand name. When you’re wearing Timberlands, you’re representing not only a concrete shoe but also the fact that you’re a concrete person. Not only is your shoe durable for everything, but you’re durable for everything. When you see somebody in Timberlands, the first thing you wonder is where they’re headed. It’s not any other gym shoe or every other boot, there’s only one Timberland. I like to think of myself as a concrete artist and when it comes to concrete footwear, Timberland is definitely at the top of my list for sure.
What’s your favorite thing about collaborating with brands to design?
Being able to express myself, kind of like my music. I think the idea of being able to express myself is also speaking for a group of people that don’t exactly have the platform to talk to Timberland or Footaction. So every time I get a chance to add my input to these businesses and corporations, I try to make sure that kids from West Chatham in Chicago and Inglewood in LA and Brooklyn in New York see those products and say ‘I like this, too.’ No matter what, you want to make sure that as an artist, whatever you’re doing connects to your brand and connects to the people that you’re doing this for, and that’s my fans and people who want to see change and difference. That’s what Timberland x Footaction x Taylor Bennett brings to the table.
Does where you’re from have an impact on how your design approach or what types of pieces you put out?
Definitely. Chicago is a big part of everything that I do; everything that I wear. If you catch the way people in New York rock their Timberlands, you know Jay-Z is famous for it. He has on that NY hat, the white tee, the blue jeans and the Timbs. For us, it’s not really the same thing. We’ll rock Timbs with shorts, sweatpants; to the gym and still hoop in them, like I said. So everything I try to do is very well-represented. In Chicago, when we wear our Timbs, we still rock our jewelry and things like that, and in the campaign photos, Footaction and Timberland wanted to keep it very original in that sense.
Your favorite piece in the collection?
The original Timbs. There’s nothing that really beats the O.G. style. When I saw those, I was happy.
Anyone you’d personally like to see in your collection?
Anybody that’s all about style. I know Kendrick Lamar is really down with style right now. Chance [the Rapper], my brother, is really getting into everything — it’d be dope to catch him in some of it. Vic Mensa, it’d be hot to see him. I know he’s a really stylish guy. Basically, I’d love to see a lot of different people rocking it. I would love to see women in the shoes, too. Bianca Shaw, a new artist from Chicago, [comes to mind]. Besides that, I don’t want to push too much of who I want to see in them, I want it to be a natural selection. The kind of shoes they have in the new lookbook are so good, [people] will want to wear them.