With the fall season and cooler temperatures now here, many people will be breaking out their favorite pairs of Ugg boots here soon. People have probably wondered how these popular, one of a kind boots came to be. Today we take a look back at the history of the famous sheepskin boots from their humble beginnings to their continued success today.
“You can’t give birth to adults. Every company is conceived as an idea and birthed into reality, and the baby business grows through its infancy, toddler years, early youth, and tumultuous teens, to eventually arrive at maturity”.
These are the exact words of Brian Smith, founder of UGG Australia, who recently just wrote an autobiographic novel, “The Birth of a Brand”, about his company’s journey over the years to national and worldwide success. The now instantly recognizable sheepskin boot brand now has cemented its place in American culture.
Today, Ugg boots are a style of footwear that both women and men can be seen wearing just about everywhere. At one time; however, the boots were simply a surfing accessory that was only well known mainly in Australia and New Zealand.
Ugg boots, known for their exceptional comfort and ability to keep feet warm, did exactly that for competitive and recreational surfers who walked on and off the beaches of Australia, protecting their feet from the many conditions on the shores.
UGG Austrailia got its start back in 1979, with Smith trying desperately for months to sell his products door-to-door to surf shops. He even sold the boots out of a van at various surf competitions! Smith himself was a surfer, allowing him to further connect with the consumers he was trying to reach.
Ugg boots first got recognized in the U.K. and the United States as surfers competing in surfing competitions in Australia would bring the boots back with them to show off.
Ugg boots were initially a hard sell as they were strictly seen as a winter shoe to Americans. There was a lack of understanding of their sheepskin material’s durability in any kind of weather. However, selling the brand and products to a specific target audience like the surfing crowd helped slowly gear UGG towards mainstream success down the road.
Smith himself also created ads in various magazines that appealed to his core audience featuring up and coming surfers in Ugg boots. Smith also took all the photos for the ads himself. Sales soon skyrocketed as a result and Ugg boots finally found a consistent home in department stores nationwide.
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Once Ugg boots had established themselves within the surfing communities at those niche surf shops throughout the 1980’s, they began to slowly catch on to other groups outside of surfing. Now they’re found in malls all across America.
Smith gradually took on more investors during the 1980’s as well, with his control of the business dwindling as a result. He eventually moved into more of a salesman-like role with the company.
Smith suffered through some hardships. He had to be patient, start small, and form a strong personal connection with a core audience over the span of a decade before his brand really took off. He eventually sold the thriving business to the footwear company Deckers in 1995, all for an estimated $14.6 million!
The brand has continued to expand its broadening appeal in the years since Smith sold it. Now available in a variety of colors, sizes, and styles and worn year around by people of all ages and demographics, UGG Australia is now one of the big heavy hitters of the American shoe-buying market.
Smith was able to bring the casual, relaxed lifestyle that Ugg boots represented from the beaches of Australia to places all over the world. Whereas Ugg boots began in surf shops, now they can even be found in ski shops, a testament to the transition of the brand image.
The Ugg brand today represents people who embrace and feel a sense of empowerment from a casual lifestyle. Uggs are now worn in virtually any setting. The overwhelming love for Ugg boots around the world has made it so that there will always be a time and place to wear them.