Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, best known for her high-fashion turns on the runway, is fronting a spring campaign for Ugg after becoming a brand ambassador last April. It debuted last week and was styled by Rachel Zoe. Before its release, Footwear News caught up with Huntington-Whiteley on the phone to talk her newest campaign, personal style, modeling and more.
How did you start working with Ugg?
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley: Ugg is a brand that has been close to my heart for many years now. I remember buying my first pair of Ugg boots when I was about 16. It’s just been one of those brands that’s been in the forefront and the background of my life ever since. I’ve had a pair with me everywhere I go. They represent the off-duty side of my life.
Do you remember your first pair of Uggs?
RHW: It was a classic boot in the natural color. I remember buying them because at that time, my favorite style icons were wearing Ugg — Kate Moss, Sienna Miller. I remember seeing them in magazines, and I had just actually started modeling myself, so I saved up for a pair and ordered them.
What was it like working with Rachel Zoe for the spring campaign?
RHW: I love Rachel. I’ve been a longtime fan of hers and the style she embodies. We actually live a couple blocks away from each other, and spend time together during our free time. She’s very talented. I look up to her as a businesswoman, as a stylist and as a mother. She has brilliant career that most stylists wish to emulate.
How do you prepare for photo shoots?
RHW: I try to make sure I’m well-rested before I turn up on a shoot. It doesn’t always happen. I think for me, as a model, the best preparation I can do is to live a healthy lifestyle and be in the best shape I can be in. It’s all about exercising, eating well and leaning into the things in life that make you happy.
How would you describe your personal style?
RHW: I really would consider my style as being on the go. I like to put on an outfit, and I don’t like to feel like it’s wearing me. I don’t like to be too fussy, but of course I like to feel stylish and put together. I lean toward great basics and classics. I live in denim. I’m inherently a jeans-and-T-shirt girl. I’ll always have a great blazer or bomber jacket with me. It’s all about accessorizing well, too. I’m in heels for work, but in my free time at home, I want to be comfortable and relaxed.
Let’s talk about designing for Paige Denim and Marks & Spencer.
RHW: Design is something I always wanted to do for as long as I can remember. I’ve always loved product and fashion. At 15, when I was in school, we had to get a work placement, and I ended up getting an internship at a modeling agency, which was my foot in the door of the fashion industry at the time. After interning there for some time, they asked if they could take a Polaroid of me and send me out for castings, and in the end it’s been a nearly 15-year modeling career. It’s kind of wild, and I can’t believe I’m still here. And it’s full circle to get to partner with brands and do what I love, which is design and talk about products, and to put my name on something in a different way than just lending my face. I get to give a voice and an opinion, and that’s when I get excited.
Any interest in shoe design?
RHW: I definitely see footwear design in the future; I would just go to town. Who knows, maybe I’ll be doing a heeled Ugg boot one day.
What do you think about the modeling industry now?
RHW: The industry has changed so much. I started when I was 16, and I’m going to be 30 this year. I think what’s incredible now is that it has become the supermodel era again; models are back on the map and I love that. There are so many more opportunities. It’s expected for you to have a voice and personality and talent. It’s cool to see these new girls coming in and how empowered they are. I definitely come from an era where modeling was about being effortless and undone. So it’s interesting to take those qualities and drive them into a new age where it’s very vamped up. Things are more self-aware than when I started modeling. I think you do try to navigate that and stay true to yourself in the best way. I’m really pleased to see the new breed coming in and to see them have success.
How important is social media to you?
RHW: You can’t ignore it anymore. You’re either on it or you’re almost irrelevant, I suppose, in terms of being a public figure. It’s just so expected to be on social media. I personally have a love-hate relationship with it. It’s all about your comfort level and what you’re willing to share. I’m quite a private person, so it’s important that I keep some things to myself. I love taking photographs; I love sharing what’s going on with my work and being connected with my followers. It’s a cool thing and I feel very lucky people are interested in what I’m doing.
Do you ever feel any pressure with 7 million followers watching your daily move on Instagram?
RHW: I know I have a lot of young girls who follow me, and I try to be responsible with that and hopefully make them feel empowered. There’s no pressure. You are who you are. You have to be more mindful sometimes, but I wouldn’t say I live my life like I have to be careful. I’m pretty normal, except for what I do. I’m a 30-year-old woman with the same desires that most 30-year-old women have.