Ugg boots mainly originated in Australia and New Zealand as a form of sheepskin boot typically made from sheepskin and fleece on the inside with a tanned outer surface and a synthetic sole. They are usually worn during winter. However, ugg boots are unisexual accessories, although there are more variations of the footwear in the ugg for women department.
Traditionally, Australian ugg boots are made with sheepskins with an attached piece of fleece. The fleece is usually tanned into the leather; the boot is put together with the fleece on the inside. Ugg for women typically has stitching that is prominent on the outside of the boot. Uggs come in various colours, fits, designs and sizes and are available in lace-up and pull-on varieties. They come as sliders, slippers, full-on shoes etc.
Recorded accounts of these sheepskin boots go back to around the late 1800s when Australian shepherds would use leather straps to attach the sheep’s skin around their ankles and feet. Many manufacturers were selling the sheepskin boots, although only in small batches, by the 1930s. Another market opened up when Australian world war I pilots would buy the ugg boots to ward off the frostbite when they flew during the unpressurised flights that reached altitudes of up to 40,000 feet in the air. Some people believe that the pilots coined the term that the boots are known by today:’ flying uggs’.
However, the current place that uggs hold in the fashion world is thanks to the surfers during the 1960s. They were majorly used for warmth and were worn mainly by surfers during the 1960s. Surfer Shane Stedman has in many interviews stated that he was the one who invented ugg boots. The story goes like this “the surfers who rode on Australia’s Byron Bay cold waves would frequently slip into their sheepskin boots while they were beachside, and one of these surfers was Shane Stedman. He trademarked the ‘ugh-boots’ and then later in 1982 ‘ugh’. He later sold the rights to surfer friend Brian Smith, who went on to sell the boots in Southern California. In 1987, he registered Ugg Holding Inc. and in 1985 registered a U.S trademark.
There are different stories about how the name ‘ugg’ boots came to be. Some point to manufactures and surfers, others to the boots being ugly, ugh and other variations like ‘fug boots’ that United Kingdom pilots wore during World War I and so on. The 1970s saw uggs becoming popular due to the popularity given to it by the surfing community and the advertising that ugg and ugh terms brought in terms of trade names and as part of the generic Australian language. Uggs started receiving international recognition outside of Australia and New Zealand because of surfing.
Although ugg boots had not been considered a fashion statement in their countries of origin for the past few decades, it has long changed now. Nowadays, ugg boots are not just worn for the warmth and comfort that it offers but also for the fashion statement that it makes. Uggs can be seen worn by various people, ranging from celebrity models to little kids on the streets. In Australia, uggs are worn predominantly as slippers and sliders; although a fashionable accessory, it is still comfortable to wear during the rough weather conditions.