Slippers are no longer strictly a household fashion item. The category has become an everyday outdoor look recently, especially in cozy street-friendly versions from Ugg. Here, Jennifer Somer discusses the fashion power and practicality of slippers.
Footwear News: How does Ugg connect its outdoor boots with its line of slippers?
Jennifer Somer: There’s always a strong foundation in our design concepts each season. Under the leadership of Helene Frain, head of women’s design, we take these concepts and trends and infuse them throughout the collection. If we do a strong novelty package for boots, there’s usually a slipper mixed in such as an indoor-outdoor style. For fall ’17, we have a big fur pompom story coming out in slippers that is tied in with our classic boots. We’ve applied the ornament to our Dakota loafer-style slipper.
Men typically receive slippers as holiday gifts. How can you encourage them to consider them as a wardrobe essential?
JS: One of the best things about Ugg slippers is that they [double as] indoor-outdoor looks. I see a lot of men wearing them for multiple occasions and not just in the house. Because our more traditional loafer designs [feature durable] outsoles, from a styling and functional perspective, [men] can wear them after sports, running errands or just around town.
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As Ugg slippers gain popularity as an outdoor look, could that eat into your boot business?
JS: We haven’t seen that happen. Instead, it’s grown our share of [consumers’] closets. The times they wear slippers outdoors [compared with] boots is different — it hasn’t cannibalized any business. On a nice day, girls on college campuses might wear slippers to get a meal or go out with friends. But in the fall, when it’s colder and they don’t want an exposed ankle, the boots are incredibly comfortable.
Do international customers have different slipper needs than Americans?
JS: Eighty percent of the line sold globally is [the same] as for the U.S. In Europe, our slippers are suited to the taste level and functionality of that market. Although, within Asia-Pacific, where it’s warmer, tall boots are something consumers can’t wear year-round. [Here in the U.S.], we’ve found slippers are viewed as indoor-outdoor shoes, and we’ve found a strong adoption of that trend in Japan and China.
How is Ugg making slippers appealing for all seasons?
JS: The wool [we use] is a natural material with wicking properties. It’s also breathable, as well as cooling, even in warmer climates. For holiday ’17, Ugg is evolving the slipper category with the introduction of a new slide, a silhouette that has a more year-round look. We’re also introducing some products with a thinner-grade sheepskin, while also lightening them up through color.