During the recent Timberland “Nature Needs Heroes” campaign launch in Shanghai, China, we had the chance to speak to their new Creative Director, Christopher Raeburn, on how to be more eco-minded when it comes to fashion.
Being a leading figurehead in the push for more sustainable fashion, what are the things that fashion-centric consumers can do to be more eco-minded? I think it is really important that individuals understand and feel powered even by making small changes together we have a big collective responsibility and we can change things quite quickly. The exciting thing now when I think about Timberland is definitely we are evolving and it’s becoming more progressive, appealing to younger customers but it’s also responsible. So we are making so much more from recycled materials, responsibly sourced cotton as an example; so we are now providing good choices to our community so that’s really the bridge. We’ve already found a lot more people are asking for the products and now it’s our job to provide as well. I think it’s a really fantastic moment when now individuals, designers and brands are coming together to realise the need to make a positive change.
Everybody is looking to cut costs in business and the environment is usually an afterthought in the chain, what can designers and brands do better in regards to this? I would think about the value of the garment or footwear you are making rather than about cost cutting. The other exciting thing actually is that at the moment there is no excuse around with the material used because particularly with recycled materials we’ve got to a point that wear is the priority and often they are the same price for the recycled or virgin materials. So actually there is no reason why a company can’t make the right responsible choice and certainly with Timberland because we put purpose and heart on everything we are doing now, it is guiding the North Star really; so we have no concern and then the great thing of course when the company is as big as Timberland, you can have the opportunity source on scale and also manufacture on scale and it really makes a difference that way.
Since coming onboard as Timberland’s Creative Director, do you feel you’ve made any changes to the company in the way they operate in terms of sustainability? I have been so fortunate to work particularly in the creative vision, this idea really brings together the energy of fashion and then the passion of nature together and of course as a fashion designer who came through from London fashion week, because I am very focused around environmental issues I would like think already this is being a big part of my day-to-day work anyway. It has been a really honour in fact to be having such influence within these 10-11 months but actually the bigger thing for me is about the team. The amazing thing with Timberland is that I already found an incredible range of people from senior leaderships all the way down to interns, young designers etc. Everyone wants to make a positive change, everyone wants the brand really to evolve, to become the brand that it could be. So it hasn’t been a difficult challenge, I think we are doing the right thing.
Can you go through some of your key Timberland products this season and explain your thought process when designing/bringing them to life so we can get an idea how you balance your unique aesthetics with your knowledge in sustainability. When you look at the Raeburn X Timberland collaboration Fall ‘19 collection, you will see pieces like the weather breaker jacket and fleece pieces – even the T-shirt that I wear – everything is all of course either recycled or responsibly sourced in terms of materials. But the references you will see the slashing of the materials it all comes back to the parachute, so everything has its consistency and a story behind it as well. I hope to have something unique when you look at the products.
You have been championing sustainability in fashion for 10 years now, what are some of the key things that you’ve learned so far in your journey and do you have a new gameplan for the next 10 years?
In the last 10 years, the exciting thing is how much the industry and the conversation has changed because now the individual is so much more aware of environmental impact of the climate crisis and the reality of the world that we are living in today, which I don’t think were so apparent 10 years ago. And then as i look into the next 10 years, I am really excited with Timberland, we are really looking into see how we can evolve ultimately to be more positive to the world. It is not an easy mission but with the materials that we chose, the products that we made by making better products and ultimately really making a stand to want to make a greener world and interact with our community, that’s the exciting thing. We can really evolve to be a company that truly is positive in the world, this is the real game changer for me.
Bonus Q+A with Timberland Asia-Pacific Brand Ambassador Will Pan:
Why do you think people should be more eco-minded in terms of fashion. I feel like a lot of times when people look at something, they tend to look at the surface; they don’t really look into the details. But we are living in this world, we need to observe what’s going on around the world and really know what’s going on behind the scenes. Everybody loves to live a good and happy but there is a lot going on behind the scenes. If we could really solve the problems that will alter the planet, I think it’s actually good that we all have that state of mind to be able to do something.
What do you like about what Timberland is trying to do in regards to sustainability? I feel like they are very determined with their themes and concepts, if you went to an event with Timberland you can really feel their determination and their vision to bring out these themes. If you look at the current slogan “Nature Needs Heroes”, why is it nature and not just we need heroes? They bring their spirit to us and reminded us living in this world is not just about chasing material things, we actually co-exist with nature therefore we need to pay attention to help sustain the earth. With their concept of triple Rs: REMADE, REDUCED, RECYCLED, the brand shown us it is possible to reduced waste, recycled and remake new products so that we can cut down pollutions and reduce waste and continues the cycle. Back to us humans, our life cycle continues too but we don’t take care of about mother earth, we are heading to doomsday. I like their vision and hoping that other brands – not just fashion brands but all other businesses – will have this state of mind which would be good for future generations to come.
Thanks to Christopher Raeburn, Will Pan and Timberland Malaysia for the interview opportunities – the new collections are available now at Timberland stores worldwide.