The Ugg boot. The not-so-pretty unisex sheepskin boot that has been around in Australia for decades, mostly worn by surfers in the 1960s, until that pivotal moment in the 70s when an Uggy, a trackie and a flannelette shirt became the quintessential Aussie dress code.
It’s been a divisive fashion statement ever since. We loved how comfortable and warm they were, but were ashamed of the daggy connotations – it’s a “I love them but I would never wear them outside of the house” kind of thing.
Somewhere around 2007, Pamela Anderson started wearing them on the set of Baywatch with her iconic red swimsuit and the rest of the world took notice: “What are these ugly boots on this beautiful woman?”
Pamela was photographed by the paparazzi wearing them to the grocery store, on the morning coffee run with skinny jeans. A trend started. Smug fashion people who had never been to Katoomba deemed them “tres drolè.”
I reeled in shock when I saw a couple of trendies wearing Uggs at the Paris RTW shows this year, because none of them had the mental picture of suburban Australia in 1975. I still hadn’t recovered from being chased down the street by feral Ugg-wearing Sharpies after a Skyhooks concert at the Hordern Pavilion.
Fast forward to fashion in 2018 where the truly ugly is fashionable, tracksuits are considered evening wear and Donald Trump is the US President. All irony has been exhausted and Uggs have taken this moment to make the ultimate comeback. In this culture of #mefirst, comfort is king and there literally isn’t a shoe that is more blissful to wear than an Ugg boot.
Ugg as a brand is owned by a US company, and they have tried to introduce fashion styles of Uggs, including some with a heel recently seen on model Rosie Huntington Whitely. This is not the point, people! Australia came up with these, we designed them flat and utilitarian for a reason. None of these fancy schmancy gimmicks.
We prefer the natural colour, that sort of icky greige that already looks grubby, but we’ll work with tan. Miley Cyrus, Brittany Spears, Kendall and Kylie Jenner have been photographed in them. But you have to be careful with them because if you look a bit ordinary, haven’t brushed your hair or bothered to change out of your cut offs, Uggs aren’t going to yell “CHIC”.
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Far better was the fabulous model Adwoa Aboah who posted a shot of herself on Instagram wearing a camouflage print dress, two-toned Burberry trench and a pair of tan Uggs. The caption: “Bringing these bad boys back in a big way.”
Lady Gaga put hers with a swimsuit and a robe which I thought looked rather New Hollywood in a good way. Like anything in life, you need a big dose of personal style to pull them off, otherwise they probably should stay inside the house.
Of course, social media is quick to criticise, so the animal activists are not too happy about Uggs. PETA has steered attention towards the “mulesling” practices that are used on merino sheep in Australia, and it strongly advises synthetic, vegan Ugg options. Pamela Anderson, a staunch animal rights activist ditched her real Uggs years ago.
Once considered the ugliest shoe option in the world, the Ugg can now be purchased in even uglier versions, hot pink, synthetic, fringed with faux fur and bedazzled. It’s positively un-Australian. Here’s to the mid-calf tan Ugg boot, slightly wet from walking through the creek on the way to the shops, worn with pyjama pants and a parka. Hollywood, you can’t have it.