Monday, 27 October 2008

Ugg Boots

After a short and frantic trip into town (are there any other types of trip into town while it's half term?) I was confronted again by approximately 2000000 pairs of Ugg boots. They are still everywhere. In Headingley where I live, every second girl has them on. It would be too easy to sit here and write another rant about how horrendously hideous they look, so I decided to research them. Why are they so popular? Why are they so expensive? How many get sold worldwide? Who started this madness? When will it end? What about the poor sheep?

According to Ugg History the story off Ugg began much longer ago than most people are aware.
The Australian ugg boot traces its origins back to at least early last century when World War I pilots were pictured wearing their fleece-lined "Fug Boots"...Mortels Sheepskin Factory began producing a line of "apache ugh boots". Then in the late 1960's Australian surfers decided it was real cosy to jump out of the surf and into a pair of sheepskin boots to help get warm.
So they were a utility boot, much more like a warm cosy sock. And the name? Rather befitting for such a fashion virus, it is Aussie slang for "ugly". They weren't ever meant to be teamed with skinny jeans or baggy tracksuit pants (god forbid). They were comfortable slippers for the outdoors. Like crocs. And we all know what a bad idea they were.

So-called 'authentic' Ugg Boots are made with 100% Australian Merino sheep's skin. Merino is the top choice in snuggly footwear (apparently) because the wool wicks away any moisture, and the skin is breathable, to stop your boots from stinking. This sheep's skin is causing quiet controversy, as people start to wonder if wearing a pair of Ugg boots is the same as wearing a fur coat. After all, how often are merino sheep eaten? They are bred primarily for their soft wool, and yes, they do get eaten, but I can't find any specific facts on how many Ugg hides were made from leftovers from slaughterhouses. Aparently making the Ugg boots is a secondary revenue for the farmers. So it might not be cruel (although to some, eating a sheep is still pretty harsh) but now we can see that it's a bit of a rip-off. Secondary revenue? Leftover hides? Sounds like a meat by-product to me. So how can Ugg Boots Australia justify charging £170 for a pair? It doesn't seem right to me. The only justfications are the time and effort it takes to tan and prepare the pelt...which is more or less the same as making leather or other sheepskin products, which don't usually cost this much.

Why are they still popular? Three years ago when I went on holiday to Australia, the trend was dying down. I hadn't even heard of them. I came back to Britain, and by Christmas shops were selling out. Ugg boots were a hit! But why in the UK? It's rainy, damp and frosty in our wintertime - the worst conditions for ugg boot wearing. They are worn by everyone with everything all the time. I imagine that 80% of the student population owns at least one pair. I am not a fan, and will not be buying a pair, but it still fascinates me that the ugliest and most expensive pair of slippers have become such a fashion staple, during a time when the rest of the world has become so like, over them already.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree totally. Ugg Boots & Flip-Flops, the world would be a better place without them.

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