“Everybody is looking at my feet, and at my age, that’s somewhat of a relief,” laughed Deckers President, Fashion Lifestyle, Andrea O’Donnell.
She was speaking at the launch event for Ugg’s new global sneaker initiative: 12×12. The party in hip Parisian boite Les Bains was attended by a slew of celebrities including Cardi B, Offset, Fai Khadra and model skater boy Evan Mock.
Driven by the popularity of the brand’s CA805 sneaker style in Japan, the dual-gender proposition will introduce the brand’s statement sneaker every month in 2020 via a new theme.
Designs channel the brand’s West Coast roots, its natural landscape and art. Every month, Ugg will partner with a key retailer on bespoke launches around the world. First up for January is Atmos in Japan.
The shoe, a faux fur covered sneaker with a lace-keeper shaped like a wedge of cheese; it celebrates the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rat.
O’Donnell is sporting the limited edition hot pink version, teamed with a scarf print dress by Balenciaga.
“The level of fashion in Paris this week is fairly high so I’ve been really surprised,” she said. “Half the people look confused or shocked and the other half smile so why wouldn’t you want to be wearing footwear that makes people happy and makes you feel cool and crazy at the same time?”
But if Cardi B and friends are anything to go by, it’s just those fashion insiders who are taking Ugg to their hearts.
The February drop celebrates Valentine’s Day with a bleeding heart motif that channels Los Angeles street art, March’s Cedar drop. It’s inspired by a trip to Yosemite National Park with cork and bark print uppers while April, launching for the Coachella festival will be a collaboration with an artist.
“Atmos was the first to see us as sneaker brand,” O’Donnell revealed, continuing that “if one of the most important sneakerheads in the world gets excited, (she was referring to Atmos founder and owner Hommyo Hidefumi), we knew we were onto something.”
“Our sneaker business was previously focused on department stores, so we wanted to get into fashion lifestyle.”
Of Ugg’s continued diversification into the sneaker category, she said that because the brand has long been a watchword for comfort “it was a natural extension of our product proposition.”
Her mission for Ugg, she continued, was to build a brand that could communicate that it was more than just its signature shearling boot but this had to be done in an authentic way: “In connecting with the California lifestyle narrative that gives you permission to do more than just one thing.”
Moreover, she noted that sneakers currently make up around 60% of the men’s shoe market in the United States, a figure, she said, that is “growing significantly.”
“If you’re left in the 40%, and that’s all you can do, that is going to be a real challenge,” she concluded.
The collection will be sold in limited quantities at select retailers worldwide, including atmos, from January 17.