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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Ski boots: from Dr Martens to Timberland to Versace

Timberland continues to be out of fashion, with their core boots and kid’s business failing. The manufacturer of quality waterproof work boots recently recalled some of Timberland PRO Direct Attach Steel Toe Series products due to a potential safety issue. Timberland now forecasts revenue to fall by about 5% from 2006, and plans to downsize their US operation are imminent with 40 stores to close. Investors are getting jittery and although there will be product diversification , it is unlikely these will impact in the short term. The rise of Timberland came in the wake of the success of Dr Marten’s Shoes in Europe. What the skinheads wore in Europe became ivy league fashion in the US. The “four wheeled drive” shoes, made to withstand all manner of extreme activities were seen strolling through the shopping malls of America. Interesting to see Doc Martens are enjoying a new vogue so it may be Timberland’s misfortune will have the same fate in the not too distant future. The origins of Doc’s came after a sking accident, when Dr Maertens, the victim recognised by trapping air in the sole of a shoe would reduce peak pressure across the sole of the foot. The sturdy Doc Marten provided comfortable workboots which crossed over into utilitarian street fashion. Not sure if the same can be said for the latest Versace creation The Quilted Sport Boot . At $900 (US) per pair that seem like the ski slope itself, too steep.

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