Music is such a large part of Timberland's and Champion’s identities that today, it’s hard to imagine them without it. To mark the two monumental brands coming together for their first collaboration, they’re reminding us of (and paying back to) this cultural world that’s been pivotal in elevating them to the streetwear icons they are today.
In a series of events hosted exclusively by Foot Locker, the two brands are exploring the rich musical scenes of three European cities and connecting established with emerging artists. Kicked off last week in London with The Streets legend Mike Skinner and grime up-and-comers Star.One, the brands now turn their focus to Milan.
When we think of Italy and especially Milan, luxury fashion, art, and, of course, food all spring to mind. But, scratch a little under the country’s slick surface and you’ll discover a vibrant, and often underrated, music scene. Its cities are no Berlin or New York, but, the likes of Milan and Naples both harbor rich and diverse scenes from which a number of talented artists have emerged over the years. Balearic house icon Leo Mas is one of them, and for Timberland x Champion's collection launch at Foot Locker's Milan flagship on November 22, he will spin his smooth, tropical tracks alongside Naples finest up-and-comer, Mystic Jungle.
The name Leo Mas might not immediately ring a bell. But, even if you’ve only dabbled in electronic music, you're guaranteed to have boogied to the rhythms of someone influenced by him. During the ‘80s Mas was a resident DJ at Ibiza’s infamous superclub Amnesia alongside fellow DJ and friend, Alfredo. Together, they pioneered Balearic house music, inspiring UK DJs who’d holiday in Ibiza and, infatuated by the sound, bring it back to the UK. This kick-started a musical movement that, fueled by a hefty amount of other substances, would be replicated and spread across the world.
But for Mas, before there was Ibiza, there was Milan, where he grew up as an activist, anarchist, and avid record collector. When he began spinning tracks, the sound that he explored was new and controversial. “In summer 1987, Alfredo and I played three hours of intense house music from independent labels from Chicago, Detroit, NYC, and the UK — a thing that no one in Europe did at the time. I sensed that was something revolutionary, it gave me the same feeling as when I first listened to the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy In The UK.”
He was at the forefront of pioneering a sound that was free, “Playing was about freedom and expression in an unconventional club where you can experiment. This was possible at Amnesia. We didn’t realize that would start a revolution that you still can feel today, after more than 30 years.”
Despite 30 years of experience playing to packed-out clubs, a massive back catalog, countless remixes, and even his own radio show, Mas remains grateful and grounded, “Being considered a generator of a style of music is the most beautiful thing that could happen to a music lover like me, it’s really gratifying.”
“The love for music is essential. Always look for new things, for good mentors, and play what you really like. Believe in this and never give up.”
30 years since Mas’ heyday and over 700 kilometers further south, Dario Di Pace aka Mystic Jungle is living proof that Italy’s DIY musical spirit is still going strong. Pace is a driving force behind a new electronic movement that Naples is currently undergoing — he DJs, collaborates with peers in the group Mastic Jungle Tribe, promotes new artists on his record label Periodica, and even runs a record store, Futuribile Record Club.
His describes his sound as “anachronistic and retro-futuristic”. Like Mas, he draws inspiration from early ‘80s Italian pop culture. “Music, literature, cinema, and visual arts were amazing: independent Italo-Disco productions, the typical cyberpunk movies, postcards, synthesizers’ design, self-produced music on tapes, and that genuine DIY way of imaging the future based on a rudimentary technology."
While these would’ve been cutting-edge sources of inspiration for Mas when he was in the crucial formative years of shaping his sound, the fact that Pace references them today goes to show the ongoing weight that certain movements carry years later, passed on through the city and its culture, “Every new musician can feel that artistic heritage, handed down for generations and continuously focused through the city.”
Timberland and Champion’s collaboration is a celebration of musical heritage, and an example of how such culturally storied histories can, through collaboration, take on a new form. In that spirit, the brands’ launch event in Milan will celebrate the Italo sound as it was in the ‘80s and as it is today.
Timberland x Champion’s first drop (peep it in the video above) is available to cop now exclusively at Foot Locker, and their second drop, which includes the iconic Timberland iconic 6” boot, lands on Monday, November 26.
For all those based in Milan, RSVP here to join Timberland x Champion on November 22 for a B2B DJ set by Leo Mas and Mystic Jungle at Foot Locker's Milan store.