Ugg boots are the quintessential accessory for all Australians in winter, but where did they come from? The history of Ugg boots is complicated and there are many stories surrounding their evolution. Artisanal sheepskin boots were worn in rural Australia during the 1920s and were reportedly worn by shearers as they found them resistant to wool yolk, which would rot their ordinary boots. Even earlier were World War I pilots who were pictured wearing their fleece-lined "Fug Boots". Lifelong surfer Shane Stedman believes he invented the Ugg Boot and surfers wore improvised sheepskin boots to keep their feet warm after catching a wave before they were commercially produced.
The date that commercial manufacturing of Ugg boots began remains unclear. Many manufacturers claim to have manufactured the first Ugg Boots including, Blue Mountains Ugg Boots from NSW, Mortels Sheepskin Factory and Perth manufacturer Uggs-N-Rugs.
Uggs as we know them, landed in the US with the Aussie surfer Brian Smith, who took a few dozen pairs of his Ugg Australia branded boots to California in 1978. The boots attracted a devoted clientele in Californian surf shops and speciality stores, but didn't find a broader audience until Deckers Outdoor Corporation bought the brand for $15 million in 1995.
Actresses who discovered Ugg boots through surf shops or surfer boyfriends began wearing them during 15-hour days on set, keeping them on under evening gowns for waist-up formal scenes. Paris Hilton in the mid-2000s wore Uggs everywhere, pioneering a new brand of fashion by pushing sweatpants into the boots, or showing they could be sexy worn with miniskirts.
And then there was Oprah Winfrey. The queen of American media had introduced Ugg Australia to her seven-million-strong daily audience in 2000 when she raved about the boots and bought 350 pairs for her staff. Retail pandemonium erupted.
Ugg Australia has a monopoly on sales and manufacture of Ugg boots outside of Australia due to trademarking of the logo and the word “ugg”, although these days the majority of Ugg Australia boots are made in China. In Australia, however, the word “Ugg” is considered to be a generic term which allows Australian manufacturers to produce Ugg boots. At MiniJumbuk we love Australian wool, this is why we stock Emu Australia one of the few manufacturers of quality Ugg boots in Australia.