Uggs: From Australian Beaches to High Fashion

Ugg boots have gone from Australian surfer-wear to high fashion.

Photo: Shutterstock

We know Ugg Boots as a brand name for a line of warm and fuzzy boots sold all over the U.S. In actuality, these boots have a much longer history. They are generally made from two pieces of sheepskin and a synthetic sole. The fleece is naturally insulating, which makes Uggs ideal for wear in both the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter.

In the 1960s, surfers on the Australian coast used these boots for surfing as well as in the winter when they were hitting the slopes. They spread this trend to fellow travelers and adventurers.

This is where Brian Smith comes in. He brought the sheepskin-lined, synthetic-soled boots to the surfing culture of Southern California. This was the center of the chill, casual lifestyle at the end of the ‘70s, and he thought the boots would be wildly popular.

He called the brand Ugg, and by the middle of the next decade, Uggs were a symbol of the Cali surfer culture and shops were opening up throughout the state. They started to appear in ski shops as well as surfer shops.

As the brand developed, the emotional connection with the brand grew as well. By the mid ‘90s even celebrities were picking up Uggs and refusing to put them down. This was the beginning of Ugg’s transition from a relaxed boot for the outdoorsperson into a fashion statement.<

By the 2000s, the boots had made it across the country to Chicago. Oprah even listed them as one of her favorite things, and their popularity skyrocketed. The strategic repositioning of the brand allowed Uggs to become high-end luxury footwear. And that is how Uggs went from getting worn around California beaches to gracing the pages of fashion magazines and the feet of women everywhere.

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