When someone tells me they are not keen on UGGs, I immediately suppose they have never worn them. As the conversation continues, it usually turns out to be the truth. UGG boots are like sushi – you either love them or have never tried them. Their minimalist design, paired with how incredibly comfortable and warm they are, makes them an all-time favorite in closets everywhere.
Originally from Australia, they have managed to capture the hearts of faithful customers worldwide. It seems like everywhere you go these days, there are people wearing beloved boots characterized by their clean style.
While doing my research for this piece, I stumbled upon articles such as this one from 2012 that predicted the demise of the boot. However, looking at it from today’s point of view, when both influencers and regular people are fighting over the last Tasman UGG slippers, I can’t help but think the predictions got it all wrong.
The UGG boot has been on the market since the 1970s, yet the popularity of this simple yet memorable pair does not seem to fade away.
A brief story of the UGG boots
The brand’s founder, Brian Smith, was an Australian who decided to visit the United States in the 1970s with the idea of bringing some hot new product to Australia, but he ended up as the distributor of sheepskin boots to Californian surfers.
During his teenage years, he was used to seeing sheepskin boots sold to surfers for 12$, with the purpose of helping feet dry quickly and stay warm. Interestingly enough, Smith decided to give them a name that aimed to resemble the sound ugh, which is a delightful acknowledgment of their seemingly plain style.
The UGGs had some quality control issues at the time – the fur density varied from shoe to shoe; however, by the 1980s, the design was perfected and made into what we know and love today.
It wasn’t until the year 2000, when Oprah Winfrey gifted a pair to everyone in the crowd during her Christmas show, that the UGG boots were finally noticed by the general public.
In 2003, when the company released baby blue and baby pink versions of the UGGs, the celebrities started wearing them, and from there, it only went skywards… We have seen many versions of the beloved boot, but one thing remains constant: the recognizable shape and the unforgettable feel.
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The UGGs are comfort over looks
Throughout history, there have been quite a few ill-fitting women’s clothing items – the most controversial being the corset and the certain runner-up – high heels.
Since the renaissance up to as late as the 20th century, corsets have been essential to female undergarments. Even though some form of a corset still exists in modern-day fashion, it is neither as excruciating nor as oppressive as before.
Women’s liberation of these garments somewhat started during the Second World War, when women constantly had to be on the move, working as nurses or messengers, and their clothes had to tally with this kind of lifestyle.
A couple of decades have passed since, and we have our next fashion revolution, which is an everlasting fad – the jeans. During the 70s, a pair of jeans were worn by all. They became the it item, showing a new, free spirit, power-to-the-people kind of girl.
The logical conclusion is that women’s fashion has been leading up to this moment: it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable to be in vogue, au contraire; its value is now measured by how agile and unconfined it makes women. This brings us to the beginning of the new millennium and the queen of comfort – the UGG.
Having this in mind, I could not help but wonder: Are UGG boots a symbol of women’s nonconformity? Despite all the mocking tones used to talk about them ever since they became an absolute hit in the early 2000s, in almost 20 years, their popularity has only continued to skyrocket.
They hit the roof during an era well-known for fashion considered extremely feminine (some might go as far as replacing it with the word objectifiable instead), yet not too comfortable such as revealing crop tops and low-cut, tight jeans that showed a belly button piercing.
It seems like the comfortable kicks were an item meant to balance it all out. The foxiness of the boot has long been debated. According to this article from 2016, the Independent wrote: “Ugg boots are not sexy unless you’re Miss Bigfoot on a lone mission across Antarctica to find Mr Bigfoot.”
Since the initial purpose of the boots was to keep the surfers on the Australian coast warm after getting out of the chilly ocean, it goes without saying that the favorite boots have not been created to be sexy yet comfortable and practical. Some might argue that they lose their shape and look slouched and sloppy after a while.
Coming from a proud UGG owner, this can only be seen as a seal of quality since the pair has obviously been worn more than a few times.
An article from August 2022 raises an interesting question: it claims that the UGGs will keep popping up as stylish in whichever era where comfy, inadvertent chic is in style. By this point in modern society, especially with the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, a single thought has been stuck in my mind: Will we ever again be willing to give up comfort? And more importantly, should we?
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The UGGs keep revamping evermore
We could say that the latest revamp of the classic UGG boot started with the pandemic. While everybody was busy adjusting to the new circumstances, trying to figure out how online meeting tools work, the UGG creative directors predicted that people would turn to comfortable loungewear and footwear and released the Classic Ultra Mini model.
We could say that the return was announced with J Lo wearing them in between shooting on a movie set. She paired them up with adorable fluffy bathrobes, which completed the ‘comfy look,’ but in any case, one thing was clear to all – the UGGs are back.
People went into a true frenzy, and it was only the beginning. Since a tall platform has been in style for the last couple of years, we saw many classics (such as the legendary Converse sneaker) spruce up their signature pieces by adding this feature.
Similarly, the Ultra Mini Model was updated into a Classic Mini Platform, which would best be explained as a UGG boot with a twist.
This pair, seen on numerous celebrities, usually worn with a pair of soft, white socks, is currently sold out, and the best you can hope for is “waitlisted.”
This is not a frequent occurrence when it comes to ready-to-wear brands. Being waitlisted is usually something we associate with Hermès, even though they use this, in part, as a strategy to leave people wanting more.
The fever surrounding the latest UGG shoe is genuinely a situation of supply and demand the people in charge couldn’t have anticipated.
Conclusion: Does pretty have to hurt?
Considering that they have started by being ridiculed for their shapelessness and supposedly unattractive look, they have surely managed to position themselves more than reasonably well in the fashion world.
The influencers and It girls on social networks (and in person) have started a silent revolution in refusing to abide by the “pretty hurts” rule.
One day, somebody stopped and said: What if “style” does not have to equate to “discomfort”? What if the UGGs are not solely designed for grocery shopping in our tracksuits but also for drinks with friends, shopping, or even going to the office? And this is how the Instagram hashtag #uggs have begun to spiral.
Everybody who’s anybody is currently pairing the classic chestnut-colored boot with the latest trends of 2022, such as bootcut jeans, relaxed-fit striped sweaters, and trench coats.
On top of that, we have seen the UGG boots combined with haute couture brands and even with the queen of all – the Hermès.
The UGG boot has been in the spotlight for over two decades now, and it managed to do a lot of things, but it never left people feeling indifferent.
Since we know that fashion is cyclical, even if they disappear for a couple of years, they will for sure reappear, making us feel warm and ‘at home’, yet dashing at the same time. The creative marketing team that has been keeping them relevant for 20 years will make sure that in years to come, we have access to new, updated, bedazzled, embroidered – you name it.
The UGGs have managed to find a way into people’s hearts mainly because they evoke the sense of being at home wherever you are. Not only that, but they have proven that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder and that the commandments of fashion are, after all, forever shaped by the consumer.