28 Oct Fashion Trendy Ugg boots prove they have staying power
NEW YORK — The boots of Ugg Australia — in their cozy, comfortable glory — are still winning fans after 35 years, having celebrated their anniversary this month at all company-owned stores.
The clunky sheepskin boots have been declared “in,” and they have been called “out” — repeatedly.
A nd they’ve been knocked off far more often.
Yet their loyal followers keep buying them.
“Have you ever tried one on?” said Tacey Powers, national merchandise manager for Nordstrom.
“They are part of the everyday wardrobe: You own a sneaker; you own a flip-flop; you own an Ugg.”
Take that, trend watchers.
The original boot style remains the most popular, but Ugg has branched out into silhouettes and loungewear. (In addition, home products such as blankets and decorative pillows will be offered during the holiday season.)
Almost every style is touched, even if hidden at the base of the heel, by the signature sheepskin lining.
“You have to be comfortable in Ugg,” said Connie Rishwain, president of Ugg Australia. “Our tag line is ‘Feels like nothing else.’
“We want them to be the go-to pair in your closet for everything. We don’t want to be the pretty pair you never wear.”
Ugg’s pop-culture trendiness peaked in the early 2000s, when Hollywood starlets made them part of their uniform with denim miniskirts. The boots are commonly worn with leggings and a long sweater or jeans and a fur-trimmed parka.
And some people wear them as if they just don’t care: “Ignore the rest of your outfit,” said Adam Glassman, creative director at O, the Oprah Magazine. “It’s nearly impossible to build an outfit around them.”
For newcomers to the brand: Uggs are intended to be worn without socks — not because the look is considered undesirable but because the wearer would miss the sheepskin sensation that makes them special.
Ugg Australia founder Brian Smith took his boots from Down Under to southern California in the 1970s — when they became popular with male surfers.
Deckers Outdoor Corp. bought Ugg in 1995 and saw the footwear’s potential with young women.
With sales success came a confidence to create clogs, slippers and the cardigan knit boots that are almost as popular as the original.
The company needed that depth of merchandise before opening its first stand-alone store in 2006. Nowadays, Ugg also offers riding, high-heeled and combat boots, too.
Powers, of Nordstrom, attributed part of Ugg’s staying power to consumers who replace worn-out products with new ones. Because the line isn’t dictated by “trends,” shoppers buy the same style again and again.
The footwear is pricey (Nordstrom.com lists a pair of women’s classic short boots at $154.95), she said, but complaints about the quality are virtually nonexistent.
“The customer comes first to them,” Powers said. “That breeds longevity.”
Glassman recalled a black-tie event during a snowstorm in which his Uggs were a hit.
“I brought a little shopping bag with my tuxedo shoes,” he said. “I switched them inside and checked in my Uggs at the coat check.
“But when we left, it was still snowing. I changed again, walked outside, and everyone said, ‘ Wow, you were the smartest guy here.’ ”