Ugg Men’s Grows Double Digits With Luka Sabbat and Heron Preston

Hot on the heels of Ugg’s Heron Preston capsule collection comes another launch that’s pushing the company’s men’s business to the next level.

For its fall campaign, the Deckers-owned brand tapped actor, model and front row fixture Luka Sabbat to tout Ugg’s Neumel boot for men in order to capture a younger audience. “Our president, Andrea O’Donnell, picked Luka for the campaign. He’s Gen Z’s ‘It Boy’ with a great aesthetic and disruptive style,” said Ugg’s senior director of design for menswear, Enrique Corbi.

“We’ve been working together since fall ’18, and he’s helping us to reach a consumer between 18 and 25.” For Corbi, turbocharging the men’s business is top of mind, and since he joined in 2016, the category’s growth has been palpable. He said, “Fall ’17 was our new men’s team’s first collection, and since then the division has experienced seasonal double-digit growth.”

Here, FN caught up with the company’s creative talent for more.

A new fall '19 interpretation of the Ugg Neumel Nation boot.
A fall ’19 interpretation of the Ugg Neumel Nation boot.

What is your overall goal for Ugg men’s? 
Enrique Corbi: “Ugg actually began as a men’s brand; that’s something that many people don’t know. Basically, it started with a surfer with cold feet, so he’d wear the boots to warm up. But these days it’s generally perceived as a women’s brand so our objective is to build on our credibility and awareness within the men’s market. Since I’ve joined, our men’s business has grown around 25% globally, which defi nitely shows that there is an appetite for what we are doing.”

How does e-commerce play into your growth strategy? 
EC: “Men used to be more conservative in the way they shopped, myself included. You’d want to go into a store and see, try and feel things before buying them but now men are catching up with women and shopping online increasingly. It’s reflected in our numbers. But while this is partly due to a change in behavior, it’s also because we have  substantially cleaned up our bricks and mortar presence, limiting our distribution to more premium partners, which increases online demand as well.”

Heron Preston fall '19.
Heron Preston fall ’19.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Recent drops include partnerships with Heron Preston and Eckhaus Latta, and past collaborations have included BAPE, Sacai and Jeremy Scott. How does this impact the brand overall? 
EC: “We have a team of very talented people in-house but each collaboration brings with it a whole different perspective on what fashion is and on what the consumer would like to see, so they enable us to amalgamate all those different elements. We have plenty of new collaborations coming up in the very near future too and I can guarantee you that they will be just as exciting, or perhaps even more so than the ones you’re seeing right now.”

The Heron Preston partnership is also the first collaboration launching in actual Ugg stores rather than specialty retailers. Why?
EC: “He may not have reached Virgil Abloh level just yet, but the designer has experienced incredible momentum over the last couple of years with his signature functional aesthetic. Strategically speaking, we wanted to keep things in-house, creating a much closer association between our brands so. Ugg can benefit from the hype as opposed to other retailers. It also allows us to control the distribution. We know there will be huge demand as the production run is really limited.”

And Luka Sabbat is fronting the Neumel Nation men’s campaign — how important is this style to the brand?
“The Neumel boot is as pure as the.Ugg DNA gets when it comes to menswear. It’s our biggest-selling men’s shoe and the pillar that everything else is built around. This season’s collection is a reinterpretation of the classic and the campaign is the largest and most comprehensive to date. I was inspired by a kid I saw nearly three years ago in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was wearing trackpants, a T-shirt and a pair of Neumel boots with the laces undone. He was just a kid on the street but his outfit could have been put together by a stylist. He told me he switched up his Vans for Uggs when it got cold. Our aim is to make them the urban winter classic.”

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