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.
A post shared by Meena Harris (@meena) on Sep 15, 2020 at 9:19pm PDT
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.
— Mimi Rocah (@Mimirocah1) September 15, 2020
Mrs. Vice President. pic.twitter.com/wvmrgFLmoa
— Jill Biden For FLOTUS (@Jillbiden46) September 15, 2020
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Though Timberlands were originally made for New England workers, the '90s saw the nubuck shoes gain popularity in the burgeoning New York rap scene.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.
i might not have health insurance at the end of the year so it's nice to see kamala harris wearing timbs and joe biden dancing to despacito that's very reassuring
— jordan (@JordanUhl) September 16, 2020
i want to understand the mind of a person who legitimately gets excited seeing kamala harris wearing timbs or chucks. what happens there?
— hasanabi (@hasanthehun) September 16, 2020
was kamala harris wearing timbs when she prosecuted the families of kids with bad attendance
— 👽𝐧𝐢𝐜𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐝𝐢𝐯𝐢𝐝𝐮𝐚𝐥👽 (@nice_logan) September 16, 2020
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.