It’s been two decades since Ugg boots stepped onto the fashion scene. The cozy yet controversial shoe picked up momentum when celebrities back in the 2000s were regularly spotted in the brand’s classic shearling boots, pairing them with denim mini-skirts, Juicy Couture velvet tracksuits and other totems of aughts fashion.
Now, with more people turning to slippers and slides as they self-quarantine and stay at home, Ugg’s fashion comeback seems inevitable — even if it’s out of practical necessity. Earlier this week, global fashion search engine Lyst reported that Ugg was one of the most searched brands for stay at home fashion in the U.S.
Jennifer Lopez steps out in a pair of Ugg slippers.
To buy: Ugg Coquette Slipper, $120
To be clear, the Ugg trend never really went away. They’ve secretly — or not so secretly — been an off-duty favorite for many, including for stars such as Jennifer Lopez, Madonna and Suri Cruise.
Although Ugg boots and slippers rose to popularity in the aughts, the sheepskin shoe was originally worn by Australian surfers in the ’60s to keep their feet warm on the beach. In 1978, Brian Smith, the founder of Ugg, took the concept to Southern California and by the ‘80s the brand had become a quintessential accessory for the SoCal lifestyle.
Fast-forward to the 2000s and the California-based brand exploded. After landing on Oprah’s aforementioned List of Favorite Things, celebrities started to pair Ugg boots with literally everything, even on the red carpet.
By the mid-aughts, Ugg boots became a staple shoe. The shapeless slipper became the ultimate signifier of cool-girl style. I remember begging my mom for Ugg boots back in 2007 after seeing the popular girls from my Catholic middle school wearing the shoes with our frumpy uniforms after hours at the mall. It was the after-school-off-duty look. Ugg shoes inevitably became a universal status symbol for women of all ages.
Nostalgia for the aughts itself is also a big factor for Ugg’s inevitable comeback. As the ’90s craze wanes and ’00s enter the center stage, Ugg boots are one of the first things that come to mind when thinking about the trends of the times.
The 2000s was a time of excess, uncertainty and absurdity due to catalytic events such as 9/11 and the recession. Fashion certainly reflected those socio-political undertones of the times by its concrete signifiers and cringe-worthy trends. Yet we can’t help but look to the past and revel in what seems to be “simpler times.”
But while fads come and go, Ugg continued to remain relevant in fashion through collaborations. The brand teamed up with a number of designers including Jeremy Scott back in 2017 and Y/Project in 2018.
Today, Ugg continues to stock the Classic Short Boot, Tall Boot and Coquette Slipper, three timeless styles that have received a cult following by women around the world, including celebs Katie Holmes and Jennifer Garner.
To buy: Ugg Classic II Short Boot, $160
More recently, the brand introduced styles that bring the shearling shoe into the new decade with fun textures and hues.
Earlier this year it was revealed that the Fluff Yeah slide was the brand’s best-selling shoe of 2019, having sold 100,000 pairs of the slide last year. The fuzzy slipper debuted in 2018 as a summer-ready option and ranked on Lyst’s 2018 index of the most coveted shoes for women.
To buy: Ugg Fluff Yeah Slide,$100
Men love Ugg shoes, too. Just this year, the brand launched a menswear collab with Ovadia during New York Fashion Week back in February. Ugg also launched a sneaker collaboration called 12×12, which involves a monthly release of the Californian brand’s revamped CA805 style.
Despite the brand’s announcement of multiple store closures due to the coronavirus, Ugg may be able to fare well thanks to the consumer demand for comfortable footwear and slippers during this pandemic. Perhaps it’s time to dust off those classic tall boots — if you still have them.
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