The Truth Behind the Ugg Resurgence
As with any great love affair, fashion has a tendency to fixate on certain items so intensely that the initial passion inevitably burns out. But, fickle as the industry may seem on the surface, its loyalty runs deep, and nowhere has that been more obvious than with the UGG boots’ prominent resurgence over the past year.
The cozy Australian shoes made their debut in 2004 on Sienna Miller, when she was spotted in full festival regalia that rendered her a bohemian style star overnight. Hollywood quickly took note, and soon every celebrity worth their salt could be seen rocking a pair (or five—as the style options were endless). Similar to the Juicy Couture track suit, the UGG redefined the status symbol as one that didn’t have to sacrifice comfort for luxury, and in doing so, it became a beacon of new millennial style.
And like the flared pant before it, the UGG boot was far too iconic not to return. When British Vogue declared in January of last year that it was back, some were skeptical (after all, it had only been a few years), but it quickly became clear that their premonition was correct. Not only were the boots back, they were flooding the pages of acclaimed fashion magazines, websites and our favourite celebrity’s Instagram feeds. From the shins down, we were experiencing perpetual déjà vu.
Did Vogue’s decree have that much power? Or was there more to the story than that? To find out, we went straight to the people who know UGG best—the brand’s PR team. It turns out that there was a big push on their end to bring the brand to the forefront again, one with numerous ingredients that came together to result in such evident success. As for why now was the right moment to do so, UGG’s Senior Director of PR, Alice Hampton, explained, “For any brand to continue to grow you constantly have to look at yourself objectively and ask, How do we bring something so iconic, and make it even more relevant to today’s consumers? How do we make something that is already loved on a global scale, loved even more? It was time for a refresh and for us to look at new features and benefits, new forms of innovation and new ways of styling that allow our consumer more wearing occasions and allow her to take her beloved Classic to the streets.”
To do that, the team first invested lots of time in researching exactly what consumers were craving right now. They then took those findings and imprinted them in the design of two new boot collections: the Classic Luxe and Classic Slim. Hampton described both styles as “elevated iterations of the iconic Classic boot” that would assure consumers thought of UGG as a brand to wear beyond the house. To further enforce that idea, it was then crucial to generate brand heat by partnering with influencers who they felt embodied the UGG brand and the accessible luxury they hoped to represent.
When the Classic Luxe collection debuted this past August, Carolyn Murphy was chosen as the campaign’s face for what the team described as her “elegance and refinement”—qualities that went hand-in-hand with the sleeker silhouettes. This high-end appeal trailed into New York Fashion Week that September, when UGG outfitted all of Marchesa’s models in the new line for their test walk before the show. While the move itself was discrete, it’s inevitable that gifting the most stylish girls on the street will pay off.
In the same month, the brand launched #UGGSEASON, an unintentional riff on the all-powerful lingo of a certain Yeezy. The social campaign featured over 15 influencers and bloggers sharing their favourite ways to style the Classic UGG and encouraging their followers to do the same. “Social media allows us to move in real time and work with people that can tell the story of our brand, through their voice,” Hampton explained of the new mediums perks. But given the abundance of people with social media prowess today, how did they narrow it down? “Working with partners that have a natural love and affinity for UGG [was] essential,” Hampton told me. “It doesn’t matter what brand you work on—the relationship must be authentic or it’s not going to work. The consumer is too smart and can see through that.” Beloved bloggers like Arielle Nachmani-Charnas of Something Navy and Sonya Esman of Class is Internal made the cut, but lest any consumers weren’t keeping tabs on such a niche group, the boots made their way to the mainstream, too. Stars like Olivia Culpo, also known as Miss USA, and Hillary Duff were both snapped in their UGG favorites.
The next big move took place in November when the brand partnered with designer and stylist Rachel Zoe on a special lookbook for the Classic Slim collection. Paired with a behind-the-scenes video series (apt, as the camera loves Zoe) the street style-inspired lookbook spelled out exactly how and where to wear each of the new boots. While that partnership alone would’ve been lucrative, it was topped off by assuring the year’s favourite It-girls had UGG boots at the ready. Heavyweights like Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Gigi Hadid, and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley all stormed the streets in the newest designs, showing their love for UGG not just in paparazzi photos, but on their personal Instagram accounts, too.
By December, any fashion-savvy or celeb-interested consumer was likely to be seeing the boots on a daily basis. The early aughts may have come and gone, but our collective infatuation with UGG had undeniably returned.