Ugg boots are one of the most iconic items of the fall and winter seasons. It’s a timeless fashion staple, and even tastemakers like Kendall Jenner can’t get enough of them.
So much of their appeal comes from their unique design, which, though often imitated, has never been replicated. But that begs the question, what are Ugg boots made of?
To answer that, we need to look at the origins of this iconic Australian brand and how its product fills a vital role in the economy.
A Brief History of Ugg
Ugg is one of the most recognizable exports ever coming from a land down under, right up there with Steve Irwin and Hugh Jackman. It’s a brand known for comfort, warmth, and its instantly recognizable silhouette.
The company was founded in 1978 while Australian surfers Brian Smith and Doug Jensen lived in California. Their signature product is the famous Ugg boot, known for its chunky profile, soft, brown exterior, and fleece lining.
The unconventional look inspired the name “Ugg,” short for “ugly boots.” Despite the self-deprecating name, the boots were an instant hit among surfers in Australia and New Zealand, who wore them to keep their feet warm after coming out of the water.
In 1985, Smith and Jensen registered and trademarked the Ugg name in the United States, and the brand soon started to catch on in Southern California. By the decade’s end, Ugg symbolized SoCal beach life. Driven onward by the surge in popularity, the brand began to expand its product line beyond just boots.
In 1995, Ugg was acquired by Deckers Outdoor Corporation. Ugg continued to grow under the new ownership, expanding its product line further. Today, Ugg offers everything from footwear to apparel, accessories, and home goods.
If it’s true that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Ugg has received nothing but praise from its competitors. Many rival brands have tried to mimic the Ugg style in recent years, but none have managed to recreate their success. That is likely due to the superior materials and construction that goes into every Ugg boot, shoe, and sandal.
What Are Ugg Boots Made Of?
The classic Ugg boot is made from sheepskin with attached sheep-wool fleece. Sheepskin is prized for its insulating properties, and the fleece lining provides additional warmth and comfort. It’s no wonder that they were made famous by surfers trying to warm up after being out in the frosty waters of the Pacific.
Ugg boots also use other materials like suede and rubber. Suede is used for the exterior, giving the shoes their iconic beige hue and soft-to-the-touch texture. Rubber is used for the sole for superior durability and traction on slick surfaces.
This combination of materials makes Ugg boots the perfect marriage of form, function, and comfort. They’re equally practical on a SoCal boardwalk doused in sea spray or walking in a snowy winter wonderland without worrying about freezing toes or icy walkways.
These materials are usually what separates genuine Uggs from cheap knock-offs. Counterfeit Uggs are virtually always made from inferior materials, resulting in poor quality and reduced durability. As with any name-brand, high-quality product, always purchase Ugg boots from a reputable retailer to ensure you get the genuine article.
One important caveat to remember with Ugg boots is that, while they gained popularity as surfer boots, they’re only considered “water-resistant.” They’re not fully waterproof out of the box. The manufacturer recommends a waterproofing treatment if you expect to wear them in wet conditions.
As with any piece of leather, it’s essential to clean and maintain your Uggs regularly. This will not only keep them looking their best but can keep them in good condition for years to come.
Are Uggs Ethical and Eco-Friendly?
While their design, construction, and materials make Uggs one of the most durable casual shoes on the market, not everyone is a fan. Ugg has faced criticism over the years for using sheepskin in its products. Most animal rights activists object to using any animal skin in a product.
For their part, Ugg points out that they only use sheepskin from animals that have been raised for food and that they follow strict ethical guidelines when sourcing their materials.
That makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Australia is the largest sheep exporter in the world. An industry that’s that massive and that important to the national economy isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Raising sheep for food produces an abundance of hides as a byproduct. If manufacturers like Ugg didn’t put them to use, they’d result in tons of landfill waste yearly.
There are valid critiques of the leather industry from environmental and ethical perspectives. However, a practical view of the issue suggests that if the raising of sheep as livestock will continue regardless, it makes sense to use every part of the animal to the most significant and most respectful degree possible.
Are There Vegan Alternatives?
There are plenty of vegan boots, shoes, and “pleather” options on the market. But the material these alternatives are made from often has its issues.
Artificial leather is often made from petroleum products like polyester or nylon. Not only do they come from non-renewable resources, but the production of synthetic leather involves harsh chemicals that are hazardous to human health.
For example, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is often used to coat artificial leather. This chemical is associated with increased rates of cancer and reproductive issues. Polyurethane (PU) is another common coating material and is related to respiratory problems and other health issues.
Synthetic materials are not as durable as genuine leather, either. If well-cared for, a quality leather jacket or pair of leather boots can last a lifetime. Synthetic alternatives will wear out in a fraction of the time.
To make matters worse, synthetic leather goods are hard to recycle. This all but guarantees that they’ll wind up in landfills.
Artificial leather is not biodegradable. They can take hundreds of years to decompose in a landfill. As synthetic fabrics break down, either from continuous use or after being discarded, they degrade into tiny pieces called microplastics.
Microplastics are now recognized as a significant cause of environmental concern. And synthetic fibers, like those used in artificial leather, are the number one cause of microplastic contamination.
Are There Any Other Options?
It’s not all doom and gloom for the earth-conscious shopper. Besides making great strides to ensure that their leather products are ethically sourced with the minimal possible environmental impact, Uggs is also moving toward an entire line of sustainable products.
These include footwear from plant-based materials like responsibly raised cotton, wood pulp, and sugarcane. They strive to use only eco-friendly products, including the heavy use of recycled materials and products produced by farms that practice regenerative agriculture.
Ugg is a brand you can feel good about wearing, both in terms of comfort and responsibility to the environment.
How to Style Ugg Boots
As with any prominent piece in your wardrobe, how you style your Uggs depends on the season, your plans for the day, the weather conditions, etc. Fortunately, they’re adaptable enough to work in almost any situation.
Here are a few basic style suggestions to help you coordinate your Uggs this season.
True to their origins in surfing culture, Ugg boots are perfect for casual outings. They pair well with jeans, leggings, and sweatpants.
For a comfortable and stylish look, try pairing your Ugg boots with skinny jeans and a sweater. You can also wear them with leggings and an oversized T-shirt for a relaxed look.
If you’re looking for something a little more put-together, try pairing your Ugg boots with a denim skirt and a sweater. This look is perfect for running errands or a casual afternoon with friends.
While associated with more laid-back affairs, Ugg boots are perfect with a dress and tights for a winter wedding or holiday party.
When wearing Ugg boots with a dress, it’s essential to choose the right style of boot. Ankle-length boots work well with shorter dresses, while knee-high boots pair well with longer dresses.
If you work in a casual office environment, Uggs are a cute work option. Wear them with black leggings and an oversized sweater for a comfortable yet professional look.
If you need to dress up your Ugg boots for work, pair them with black pants and a blazer. This will give your outfit a polished look while keeping you cute and comfortable.
Though soft and cute, remember that Ugg boots were designed for the great outdoors. We already touched upon their importance in the 80s and 90s surfing culture. But they’re also great for camping or a light hike.
While all Uggs provide warmth and comfort, it’s essential to choose the right style of boot for lengthy outdoor excursions. High tops can help brace the ankle on long walks and protect you from thorns and spurs.
No matter the occasion, don’t forget about accessories. Scarves, hats, and gloves can all help to complete your look. For example, Uggs with a scarf and hat in the same color make for a timeless, well-coordinated outfit.
You can even bring that cozy vibe home with you thanks to Ugg’s line of home goods. Whether you need a fleece blanket for a brisk winter’s evening or a rug to tie a vacation cottage together, they’re bound to have something to ensure your winter is warm and merry this year.
Does Ugg Do More Than the Basic Boot?
Ugg will always be associated with its classic boot first and foremost. However, as the company grew, it expanded its portfolio to become a full-fledged lifestyle brand. Today, Ugg offers a wide range of shoes and boots for men, women, and children.
If you thought the classic boot was comfortable, Ugg slippers take it to the next level. They are available in a variety of styles for both men and women and are great for lounging around the house, casual outings, or spending a weekend up in a cozy cabin somewhere.
Ugg sneakers are a recent addition to their catalog. They’re designed to marry the comfort of Uggs to the everyday utility of a sneaker. They make for a great all-around option for almost any situation.
Ugg sandals are great for any warm-weather outing but are best enjoyed on the beaches that inspired the company’s creation in the first place.
While their flagship boot will always be iconic, Ugg has added a few notable variations on the original to the product line over the years.
For starters, they made the original boot available in various colors beyond the classic beige. Rolling into a holiday party with red or green Uggs, for example, is a great way to set a festive tone. They’ve also added ankle boots, mid-calf boots, and knee-high boots to the collection.
Beyond footwear, they’ve added jackets, hats, gloves, and scarves to the lineup. All of these were designed to emulate the same sense of comfort and coziness that made their boots famous. All their products share a cohesive design, making it easy to coordinate an outfit.
Make the Most of Ugg Season
When asking, “What are Ugg boots made of?” you have to consider that the Australian footwear giant doesn’t limit themselves to their classic sheepskin boots anymore. They offer natural boots in suede leather, luggage leather, and even a few vegan options for those inclined.
The Tazz slipper is an excellent example of how Ugg continues to iterate on their designs. This remix of a Ugg classic is the perfect addition to any outfit this season. Check it out here to be the envy of every holiday party this year.