Art and design

Books

Culture

Environment

Fashion

Film

Life and style

Money

Music

Politics

Science

Technology

Travel

Television

US news

World news

Furry friends: Ugg boots threaten a fashion comeback

From left, Sienna Miller, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jennifer Lopez wearing Ugg boots
Ugg boots are back, according to (from left) Sienna Miller, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Jennifer Lopez. Photograph: Rex Features


Ugg boots – the much-derided sheepskin footwear that helped define noughties style – are threatening to come back into fashion, if Vogue magazine, the Paris catwalks and trend-setting celebrities are to be believed.

“Rihanna and Sienna [Miller] lead the Ugg boot revival,” declared Vogue this week, after two of the most influential figures in fashion were spotted wearing the beige boots. Cara Delevingne, Jennifer Lopez and Heidi Klum have also recently been seen sporting a pair, and the actor Anna Faris wore Uggs to officiate a wedding earlier this month.

Men’s thigh-high Ugg-style boots by Y/Project.
Like ‘putting your thighs in butter’: men’s Ugg-style boots by Y/Project. Photograph: Pixelformu/SIPA/REX/Shutterstock

Uggs also popped up at Paris men’s fashion week last week, in their most edgy incarnations yet. At California-based Y/Project they were elephantine and thigh-high; wearing them was like “putting your thighs in butter”, said the footwear brand’s designer, Glenn Martens. They were also the star of the show at influential Japanese luxury brand Sacai, where they came in grey or camel versions, with the addition of a chunky knitted red and white upper.

The history of Uggs is much contested. The term “ugg” is a generic word for slippers in Australia, and the Ugg brand was launched in California in 1978. Their fashion heyday kicked off in 2000, when they were endorsed by Oprah Winfrey, and they received a further boost in the UK in 2004 when Sienna Miller wore a turned-down chestnut-coloured pair to Glastonbury. In Australia and the US, Uggs represent a relaxed, surfer-style lifestyle that appealed to off-duty celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Sarah Jessica Parker, who were often papped wearing them in Los Angeles with a latte in hand.

In recent years, their fashion credentials have waned, though they pop up occasionally: in 2012, Kate Moss was photographed wearing her mid-calf black pair while walking her dog, and Vogue preceded its current advocacy back in 2015 when it asked: “Isn’t it time that we embraced our guiltiest fashion pleasure?” Last year, collaborations with Jeremy Scott – in which Uggs were decorated with flame prints or encrusted with jewels – and British label Preen piqued the fashion pack’s interest again.

Not everyone will greet their return with glee. In 2010, the head of the British College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr Ian Drysdale, expressed concern at the lack of support Ugg-style boots provide, saying they could lead to ankle, hip and back problems. “Just because something becomes a trend or fashionable doesn’t mean it’s good or right,” he said.

Emma McConnachie, a podiatrist from the College of Podiatry, has a more lenient view. “I’ll not single out Ugg specifically as a brand as there are many similar styles of footwear on the market. The higher-end brands are often slightly better made and have more reinforcement at the heel, however many cheaper brands offer little to no support at all.” As for wearing them on the catwalk, she added: “I would always recommend to wear footwear that is appropriate for your foot needs and the activity you are doing.”

Ugg’s recent collaborations with catwalk brands are part of a strategy to drive sales, partially in emerging international markets. The idea that the boots are – to use the pejorative term – “basic”, “is a very North American view, in no other region is this the understanding of the Ugg brand,” Andrea O’Donnell, the president of fashion lifestyle brands for Ugg holding company Deckers Brands, recently told trade publication WWD.

For O’Donnell, of course, Ugg boots are always on trend. She describes them as “one of those icons that’s kind of ugly-cool – but I think that is a very special thing”. In an era in which fashion brands such as Balenciaga and Vetements have been making wilfully ugly, awkward clothes the height of style, and fellow ugly shoe brands Crocs and Birkenstocks have had their recent moments on the catwalk, she might have a point.

This article titled "Furry friends: Ugg boots threaten a fashion comeback" was written by Scarlett Conlon, for The Guardian on Friday 26 January 2018 03.18pm

Fashion

Gucci shuns glamour and sex for philosophy and severed heads

As a reflection of fashion’s shifting aspirations, the remarkable overhaul of Italian mega-brand… Read more

Gay men are winning this year’s Winter Olympics – and making it a joy to watch

You mentioned London fashion week last week, but have totally ignored the major cultural event… Read more

‘It’s not just about abusive photographers’: fashion and feminism in the world of #MeToo

The Saturday afternoon of London fashion week saw Christopher Bailey’s final show for Burberry,… Read more

London fashion week storms the palace (and the galleries)

Erdem snaked a catwalk through the National Portrait Gallery, Christopher Kane commandeered Tate… Read more

Max Mara's Milan show puts strong femininity centre stage

One of fashion’s most significant recent macro trends is the rise of the power coat. This very… Read more

From rainbow stripes to high-tide trousers: eight styles rules from London fashion week

1 Rainbow is the new woke dress code With the red carpet blackout sweeping the board at the Baftas… Read more

Philip Green considers selling Arcadia to Chinese textiles giant

Sir Philip Green is thought to be considering the sale of his Topshop-to-Burton empire Arcadia as a… Read more

Queen makes surprise appearance at London fashion week

There are few people that can get the usually aloof fashion crowd giggling in a state of high… Read more

'So much purpose. So much talent': punk designer Judy Blame dies aged 58

Most people know of Judy Blame, who died on Monday, aged 58, for his era-defining work styling and… Read more

A field guide to spotting a good shag | Brief letters

Your “Mullets we have loved” (In pictures, 17 February) was highly flawed. Half of these “mullets”… Read more