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Blog/Brand Bible/The History of UGG Boots
The much-vaunted UGG boot - officially manufactured by UGG Australia - came roaring into fashion in the mid-2000s and its popularity has shown no sign of waning since. While the style’s most recent years have been examined in microscopic detail thanks to the shoe’s versatility and its all pervading influence, its past is less well known, so we’re delving into the murky waters of time to discover the story behind one of the best-known boots today.
Nobody quite knows when or where the UGG originated. Both Australia and their neighbours New Zealand have laid claim to being the birthplace of the sheepskin boots, and numerous people have taken credit for the invention. The moniker “UGG boot” is a matter of contention as well, although the most commonly accepted explanation is that it derives from early descriptions of the boots as ugly.
The boots spent much of their early life as purely comfort items - indeed, in Australia, unlike the West, UGGs are still most commonly used as slippers and for home wear rather than as a fashionable style. They were largely restricted to use in the Oceanic corner of the globe until their use by Australian surfers in the UK and US in the 1960s and 1970s captured the imagination of the surfing community. It wasn’t exactly a match made in heaven - we can’t imagine that sand and salty seawater blend particularly well with artisan sheepskin boots - but it sowed the seeds for the boots’s world domination.
It was also this association with surf culture that first saw it transcend its original purpose as a comfy slipper-style shoe. Australian movie theaters in the 1960s, in an attempt to curb youthful unruliness, banned various items worn by surfers at the time - including UGGs. This led to them being seen - for a very brief moment - as a symbol of rebellion. It wasn’t a reputation particularly befitting of the snuggly soft shoes, but it was an early indication of the power of the UGG.
UGGs bubbled on under the mainstream radar for decades until the mid-’90s, when a company named Deckers Outdoor purchased the UGG Australia company, which now owns the sole right to sell boots bearing the UGG name exclusively almost everywhere but their home territories. Under Deckers, UGG boots have gone from relative obscurity to stratospheric popularity, surpassing the $1bn sales mark for the year of 2012.
While acquiring the UGG Australia brand is undoubtedly one of the most savvy fashion moves the fashion world has seen in decades, it was, like so many of history’s greatest business decisions, a bit of a fluke. Angel Martinez, the CEO of Deckers, has said that rather than a great act of foresight, the company were simply looking for a style they could sell in the winter, as up until that point the company specialised in summer sandals.
UGG have guided the style through its most successful period, despite the apocalyptic predictions of numerous fashionistas since the shoe came to prominence. UGG Boots show no real signs of slowing down, and if the dramatic rise we’ve charted here continues, then the future is very bright indeed.
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