Why Ugg Boots Will Never Go Away | HuffPost ugg europe

03/03/2014 12:20 am ET Updated Mar 04, 2014

Why Ugg Boots Will Never Go Away


Long derided as ugly footwear for the slovenly and trend-obsessed, Ugg boots have defeated their haters and earned a guaranteed place in the American woman's closet, tucked away until the mercury dips below freezing.

You couldn't go outside this winter without seeing a parade of women of all ages wearing the squat sheepskin booties. So pervasive are Ugg boots that more than a quarter of American women now own a pair, according to a 2013 study conducted for shopping website Beso by Bizrate Insights. Indeed, the UGG Australia brand did remarkably well for parent company Deckers in 2013. Aided by record-low temperatures in parts of the U.S., the warm shoes posted a 9.7 percent sales increase, to nearly $1.3 billion.

"They have become the winter flip-flop," said stylist and fashion consultant Kate Schelter, who has worked with brands like Victoria's Secret and TOMS. "A banal essential that people cling to out of comfort and freezing temperatures."

Once an obscure surfer favorite in Australia, Ugg boots -- Deckers shuns the term "Uggs" -- exploded in popularity in the early 2000s thanks to the feverish embrace of America's teenage girls. Teens could be seen shuffling around shopping malls outfitted in a puzzling combination of toasty footwear and short skirts.

The Ugg look in 2004. (Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)

Back in 2002, Los Angeles-based fashion consultant Hoda Mallone remembers watching a young woman flailing around in the middle of a dance floor wearing a tank top and teeny denim miniskirt, with a pair of tan Ugg boots on her feet. "I couldn't understand," said Mallone. "Why? Are you hot and cold at the same time?"

Mallone hasn't seen anyone try that look recently -- evidence that the "context" around the boots has transformed completely, she said. "I haven't seen Uggs with a miniskirt or cutoff denim shorts in a while. If you're going to wear them, make sure they make sense," she added.

In the early 2000s, the Ugg rush spawned a torrent of copycat brands as well as a massive black market for counterfeit boots bearing the trademark. Still, UGG Australia, which began in California in 1978 as Ugg Imports, has managed to dominate the market and become a billion-dollar brand for its parent company, Deckers.

The company now sells everything from handbags to men's loungewear under the UGG brand, though its core products remain the boots and slippers. Connie Rishwain, president of UGG Australia, told HuffPost that its top-selling boot remains the Women's Classic Short boot, which retails for $155. The prime reason for the boots' staying power is that there is "no match for the comfort and warmth" that they deliver, according to Rishwain.

Gisele Bundchen in Ugg boots on Dec. 30, 2013, in Boston. (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)

She added that "even the top people in the fashion industry have acknowledged" how much they love the boots, with fashionistas having "more than a pair or two in their own closet."

A variety of Vogue editors confess to owning Uggs. Fashion icon André Leon Talley recently revealed that he has been wearing them for years. And they're still spotted gracing the feet of stylish celebrities like Kate Upton and Blake Lively.

Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner, a clinical psychologist who analyzes dress behavior, said that through many Ugg-wearers are influenced by their favorite celebrities, others have different reasons for strutting around in the boots: to keep warm, to perform certain tasks, or for the design itself. Whatever the customer's reason for putting them on, the clothes serve as a dispatch to the outside world.

"People read what we wear like a billboard," she said. "There's a message in clothing."

One message some women may be subconsciously sending is the idea of "claiming back power," according to Kate Nightingale, founder of Style Psychology, a fashion consulting firm. She said some women wear Ugg boots in order to break free from assumptions thrust upon them by wearing a dress and heels, shooting back the message: "We are not here to be beautiful and present ourselves, we also have brains."

Jennifer "JWoww" Farley, on set for "Jersey Shore," wears Ugg boots in 2011. (Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)

Though Ugg boots may be hard to think of as a "classic" piece of footwear, industry experts drew some parallels to other long-lasting items.

Fashion psychologist Dawnn Karen likened Ugg boots to Air Jordan, Nike's famed sneaker brand that rose to prominence around basketball legend Michael Jordan during his heyday in the '80s and '90s. The shoes have thrived through endless fashion cycles, representing an urban style that has developed its own following.

"It seems as if, if you don't have the Ugg, you're behind," said Nightingale. "If you have it, it's a key piece to your entire shoe closet."

Of course, there are still a lot of Ugg haters around. The Internet is littered with websites dedicated to the loathing of the shearling boots. A 2010 survey by MSN showed that Ugg boots are one of the top 10 clothing items that men hate on women. In 2012, the Guardian declared the boots "over" after Deckers posted weak sales.

And many in the fashion industry still can't stand them. Yet consumers get the final vote with their wallets. Despite their vast reach, fashion influencers have seen much of their power recede into the hands of consumers, now that shoppers have access to all sorts of fashion information -- not just the magazines found on the rack.

"There are things that the fashion industry gods cannot control," said Karen. "And people don't know that. They think the fashion industry controls everything. But it's a democracy, the power is with the consumer. The Ugg boot is like democracy."

ugg kids
Models at the UGG Australia preview during petiteParade Kids Fashion Week on Oct. 6, 2013, in New York City. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for petiteParade)


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Ugg Boots

Update: I got my ugg boots from aussiesheepandwool.com.au and their service was terrible. It took 3 weeks for them to even send my order and then when I received it they had not sent me what I ordered. They were extremely rude and unhelpful when I tried to sort out the problem. Even though they were in the wrong (which I can prove), they didn’t even apologise or even admit they were wrong. Don’t use them!

Aussie Sheep and Wool are CRAP!

Try Australian Ugg Boots instead. They deliver worldwide so there is no problem getting them delivered to France or elsewhere in Europe.

End Update

After seeing Leesa’s cute little ugg clogs, I decided to buy a new pair of uggies for myself, F, and his mum. I can’t believe how expensive they are now, £140 from Amazon is outrageous!

I bought them from an Aussie company and after postage they worked out at around 100 euros each, so more than half the Amazon price.

F and S got this one:

Aussie Sheep and Wool

I’ve had that one before and it lasted for years. A good choice but kinda ugly.

I went for this classic boot plus an outdoor black ugg boot.


Uggs Europe

I’ve never worn ugg boots outdoors before but I was thinking it should come in handy for my upcoming trip to central Europe. I’m sure it’ll be cold and ugg boots will be perfect for walking around Vienna, Prague, and Budapest.

I didn’t think the Frenchies would go for ugg boots but I’ve seen loads of people wearing them in recent weeks and it’s not even cold yet.

About Andrea

Andrea Anastasakis is the founder and author of travel blog Destination Europe. She is currently living in Paris, France. Subscribe to the RSS feed and become a fan on Facebook.

Ugg boots in September?

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Ugg boots in September?

I've been tracking the weather for the week (Sept 23-28) when I'm in Paris (first timer!) and it looks like it will be a bit chilly. Because of this, I am seriously thinking of packing my Ugg boots and wearing them since they are comfy and will keep me warm. BTW, we will be coming in from Rome where the temps will be in the high 80s so the shoes I will be wearing there will probably not work for Paris. Thoughts? Thanks!

los angeles
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1. Re: Ugg boots in September?

I doubt it will be cold enough in September to be concerned about keeping your feet warm with other than a traditional shoe. In addition, if you have an occasional rain shower, the Uggs will be useless (as they sop up the water). And since they take up room in a suitcase (and you will not use them in Rome), I think it will be extra packing that you should avoid.

The best thing is to try to bring shoes/clothes that will suit both destinations.

But your instinct to pack comfortable footwear is a good one.

Louisville, Kentucky
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2. Re: Ugg boots in September?

I wore my UGGs on an October trip to Paris, and for comfort, I would take them. If my feet are warm, I'm warm, and UGGs are great in chilly weather, especially if it is damp. My only caution would be that there is no arch support in UGGs, but I'm okay with that. I waterproof my UGGs before i set out on any trip.

I would also pack a microfiber coat with a removable lining. Microfiber is great for blocking the wind, and the removable lining will give you flexibility should the temperature warm up.

Edited: 11:34 am, September 09, 2011
los angeles
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3. Re: Ugg boots in September?

Well, I guess there's nothing like a matter of opinion!

Looks like troggs is an Uggs-wearer, so I would go with that advice as long as you are cautious not to overpack. No use hauling around (or paying extra for) overweight luggage!

Have a great trip!

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4. Re: Ugg boots in September?

A decent pair of shoes should really be all you need and they take up less luggage space.

I would not waste luggage room on boots of any kind, personally. IF you really must take boots, wear them on the plane and pack 'smaller' shoes in your baggage.

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5. Re: Ugg boots in September?

How about some SmartWool socks? They keep your feet warm, help prevent blisters, and take up a lot less room.

Louisville, Kentucky
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6. Re: Ugg boots in September?

I don't think UGGs take up that much more room in my suitcase than another pair of shoes. The soles may take up space, but other than that, the boot part lays pretty flat.

Sorry to be so "pro-UGGs," but they are my chilly weather footwear of choice. They have pleasantly seen me through cold weather trips to visit my daughter in NYC, an October tour of the D Day sites, and a damp day in Paris. I wish I had them with me when we were in Munich several years ago, and they are going with me when we have an overnight layover in Amsterdam in November. They are broken in and keep me out and about when others shoes may have sent me to seek shelter. They are my "chilly weather traveler's best friend," and when in doubt, I take them with me. I even pack my UGG slippers to wear on the plane, They fold flat, slip on and off easily, and I can carry them in a tote. ;-)

Edited: 12:26 pm, September 09, 2011
Paris, France
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7. Re: Ugg boots in September?

The weather report that you're seeing for the 23-28 of Sept. may not be accurate because it's a bit far into the future to make an accurate prediction. You're the best judge of what's chilly for you, but I wouldn't wear Uggs in September. The winters can be long in Europe so I try to avoid wearing winter clothes/boots until I really have to. Having said that, I saw plenty of people wearing Uggs during the summer.

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8. Re: Ugg boots in September?

troggs, don't apologise for being pro Ugg - you are equally as entitled to your opinion as anyone else!

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9. Re: Ugg boots in September?

I always thought Ugg boots were summer wear - most of the people I knew who wore Uggs in the 70s wore them during summer. Mind you - that was in Canberra, where the summer temperature rarely gets over 100f.

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10. Re: Ugg boots in September?

Essexwanderer, though it's not happening here, I'm just a little sensitive to the recent propensity for posters to bombard contributors who espouse a particular product, service or venue. Despite my being a frequent contributor on several forums, this has happened to me. I almost felt like I needed to add a disclaimer that I don't work for UGGs! That said, I just ordered a pair of UGG flip flops (without the fleece) for my trip to Cannes next week. I just like UGG products and they work for me. :-)

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