Like or hate it, the Ugg boot has captivated consumers for decades, from its Y2K takeover to its newfound Gen Z cool factor.
As its parent company, Deckers Brands, celebrates 50 years, Ugg isn’t far behind. The lifestyle label turns 45 this year and is still clearly in its prime, bringing in $930.4 million in revenue in the fiscal third quarter.
Now, under the direction of Anne Spangenberg, who was tapped as Deckers’ president of fashion lifestyle last summer, Ugg is laser- focused on its next level of growth.
“Anne is an incredible addition to the team,” said Deckers president and CEO Dave Powers. “She brings in something that we really needed and that was real discipline. She has a strong track record around merchandising and storytelling, so she sees the opportunity around focus, cleaning up our assortment and getting behind the styles that are really going to move the needle in a big way.”
Prior to Ugg, the exec had a 13-year stint at Nike, where she most recently served as the company’s chief merchant.
Part of what has kept Ugg in a strong position in the market is its ability to innovate both new and existing franchises. Take the Classic Mini Platform style, for instance.
“You take the core classic boot, and you shorten it, and then you shorten it again, and then you put
it on a platform,” explained Spangenberg. “You can see the original icon and the bones of that classic boot, but it really gives a new consumer an opportunity to fall in love with the brand.”
“We continue to see a big resurgence for the brand,” said Dyansa Calderon, merchandising director, casual footwear at Zappos. “They continue to push themselves creatively and innovatively to introduce new trends, while reinventing the heritage that we have all loved over the years. The nostalgia of the Classics still create positive emotions with customers while the new styles allow them to show off their attitude.”
To further elevate the brand, Spangenberg is prioritizing the consumer.
“We’re putting the consumer in the center of everything we do, and making sure that our team as a whole is aligned around that consumer-centered strategy. I believe my role in the organization is to unleash creativity. And this is the merchant in me speaking — making sure that we are delivering the right product at the right time and in the right quantity,” she said.
Although the brand already has a set of dedicated fans across generation, tapping into Gen Z has proven to be a catalyst for growth. But Spangenberg has challenged her team to continue to find new ways to serve them.
“Our promise to the consumer is around comfort and feel. So how do we continue to do that? How do we look into our archives for great product with great solves that we can introduce to a new generation of consumers. And then, thinking about what their lives look like now, how can some of our heritage products serve those needs.”
Marketing is also vital for tapping into a bigger audience. Ugg has found its rhythm in delivering authentic collaborations with designers such as Telfar, and campaigns with celebrities and influencers like actress Keke Palmer.
Tacey Powers, Nordstrom’s EVP and GMM for shoes, said the retailer is impressed with Ugg’s social strategy, such as TikTok. “Ugg has leveraged the power of collaborations, and partnerships with key influencers, to stay relevant and meet the customer where they are today.”
Part of creating that closer connection with consumers comes from its diverse messaging, said Spangenberg.
“[Inclusivity] is important to us. One of the things that I started to notice as I was interviewing for this role is the diverse casting, which looked different to me than my initial memories of what the brand looked like. So that’s really changed,” she said.
Plus, as its Asian and European markets continue to expand, connecting with influencers on a global scale remains a priority.
“It’s thinking about the connection to K-Pop or influencers in China, and what that represents not only in that country itself, but also to the population in North America,” the exec added.
That same global mindset goes into product as well. When thinking about the Ugg assortment, Spangenberg said it’s all about making sure there’s a variety of product available to the consumer when they need it and what they need it for no matter the season. Koolaburra by Ugg is also filling that need for fashion at an affordable price. The opportunity going forward is to offer customers the same level of fashion, energy and purposefulness that has been built on the Ugg side, but with more accessibility.
While the Deckers company is seeing record results, there are still challenges and for Spangenberg, it’s around focus.
She said, “There are so many opportunities. There is always room for improvement, as we think about our ability to better serve to better deliver. But, we’ve got a pretty amazing track record, have produced incredible results over the years. I believe deeply in the Decker’s mission, and the incredible brands that this team has built. I have so much energy and optimism for our future as a brand in our future as a company.”