How Ugg Reimagined Its Classic Boots to Make Them Accessible for People With Disabilities

Ugg and Zappos have joined forces to launch their first inclusive footwear collection.

The sheepskin boot brand and the online retailer’s Zappos Adaptive platform today debuted Ugg Universal, which features functional iterations of two classic Ugg styles: the Classic Short and Neumel. Both silhouettes have been reimagined with adaptive elements such as oversized double zippers, rear pull tabs and toggle-adjusted stretch laces.

“Not only has Zappos created Zappos Adaptive, a curated shopping experience that makes fashion functional and available to all, but they have encouraged us to adapt our heritage styles, so they are now truly accessible,” said Andrea O’Donnell, president of fashion lifestyle at Ugg parent Deckers Brands. “We are very proud to be part of the Zappos Adaptive program.”

Ugg x Zappos, Ugg Universal, Zappos Adaptive
Ugg Universal’s Neumel Short style in black, grey and chestnut.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Zappos.com and Ugg

According to a joint statement from the two companies, Ugg and Zappos worked with customers who have disabilities to ensure the products addressed a variety of needs and are tailored with a design that fits most, if not all, customers.

“To bring this collection to life, we worked side-by-side hosting focus groups with a diverse group of people with disabilities to receive first-hand feedback,” added Dana Zumbo, business development manager at Zappos Adaptive. “We’re humbled by the experience of getting to play a part in Ugg brand’s first-ever universal design.”

The line is now available exclusively on Zappos.com until 2022. The Classic Short comes in chestnut and black colorways, while the Neumel has an additional grey option. The range includes both women’s and men’s styles, from sizes 5 to 18, as well as kids’ product, from the toddler size 10 to children’s 6, at a price point between $130 and $170.

Ugg x Zappos, Ugg Universal, Zappos Adaptive
Ugg Universal’s Classic Short and Neumel styles.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Zappos.com and Ugg

Zappos introduced its Adaptive line in April 2017 — three years after a customer, in a phone call with an employee, asked if she could exchange a pair of shoes for her grandson, who had autism and needed help tying the laces on his own.

In mid-July, the Las Vegas-based company officially launched its Single and Different Size Shoes test, which allows customers to buy only one shoe or two shoes in different sizes and widths to create a pair. It worked with participating brands like Nike and Converse, plus New Balance, Billy Footwear, PLAE and Stride Rite, to provide the footwear offerings.

Aside from Zappos, other fashion and footwear firms have begun to identify the philanthropic and entrepreneurial opportunities of entering the adaptive business: Last June, department store chain Kohl’s added adaptive lines to three of its private-label kids brands, while major players like Nike and startups such as Powerlace and Zerotie have developed their own hands-free sneaker innovations.

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