Kamala Harris did not step off of her private plane on her way to visiting the scene of a devastating California wildfire so much as she bounced. The vice presidential nominee did so in Timberland boots, drawing a wave of online cheers and boos, in what might be the first true sartorial scandal of the Biden/Harris campaign.
On one side came the praise, heaped on by liberals who are already pushing hard for a Democrat victory in November. “THE TIMBS THO,” Meena Harris, Kamala’s niece wrote on Instagram. The nominee—or perhaps just her campaign—had turned her into a GIF.
Was it the shoe choice itself or just Harris’ assured manner that sold the look so hard? Perhaps a mixture of both. That jaunty strut? A construction boot made popular by New York rappers? Mike Pence could never.
As some noted, the scene recalled Melania Trump’s 2018 visit to McAllen, Texas, where she met with families who had been separated at the border, wearing an infamous Zara cargo jacket that read, “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” Harris wore a similar style, with no words on the back, plus skinny jeans.
Where Trump has made a habit of wearing her Louboutin stilettos to disaster scenes—to much mockery—the former attorney general’s boots are workwear at its most obvious. The intended message: I am here to get things done.
But given that one of the biggest criticisms of Harris is her record as a San Francisco prosecutor—the phrase “Kamala is a cop” has come to haunt her campaign—many saw the boot choice as merely gestural.
Though Timberlands were originally made for New England workers, the '90s saw the nubuck shoes gain popularity in the burgeoning New York rap scene. The Notorious B.I.G. wrote about them; Wu-Tang Clan, Tupac, and Aaliyah all wore them. Timbs have an undeniable association with hip-hop culture; many thought Harris might be pandering with her footwear.
Harris has worn her Timbs—like her Converse Chuck sneakers—plenty of times in the past. Is she doing so to make a lame attempt at “cool” branding or flex her wardrobe? Is it just because they’re comfortable and worthy of such a somber, dusty day? Maybe it could be a mix of everything. Perhaps she just likes them.