The Timberland Company is hoping its Earthkeepers range of recyclable shoes can help it climb towards consistent and sustainable top-line growth, after reporting broadly flat third quarter revenues this week.

The outdoor apparel and footwear company yesterday (29 October) posted a surprise 23% third quarter profit increase, but revenue remained flat at $421.8m.

Timberland's president and chief executive officer Jeffrey B Swartz told investors in a conference call: "No one here is even barely satisfied with our performance.

"We have our eyes focused constantly on real performance in terms of brand building and shareholder results. On both fronts we still have miles left to travel."

Meanwhile, the company estimates that Earthkeepers will represent 10% of footwear sales and 50% of apparel sales by autumn 2010 - having first launched just two years ago.

Strong overall boot sales in the third quarter helped lift global footwear revenue by 1.8% to $319.1m, while apparel and accessories sales were down 6.7% to $95.8m.

Swartz added: "On one level delivering a quarter roughly flat compared to last year's results is an accomplishment given the world we are competing in.

"But in the same breath I see the third quarter's modest progress as nothing more than the first faint external signal that our plan to rebuild our brand and business performance is beginning to take."

While sales of Timberland's trademark boots is dependant on fashion shifts, banking on the green credentials of Earthkeepers is already reaping rewards.

Earthkeepers has delivered US$65m in revenue this year, having signed up musician Wyclef Jean to promote the brand.

The Earthkeepers 2.0 boot can be disassembled and recycled at the end of its product life, allowing ethical consumers to return the shoe, which also uses recycled tyres during the production process.

Timberland is able to recycle or re-use 80% of the boot. This includes leather that is refurbished at the company's factory in the Dominican Republic, green rubber soles that go back to a factory in Georgia and polyester lining that can be recycled into new polyester products.

"What brings them to Earthkeepers first and foremost is a distinctive and relevant asthetic. It has to be beautiful or handsome or they won't pick it up," Swartz added.

Click here to read more on Timberland's third quarter earnings.