Living That Ugg Life… How The Most-Hated Shoe Became The Fashion Icon of Tomorrow
The year is 2007 and me and my friends are walking up Highgate Road to start our first day of secondary school. Three different schools situated in close proximity – one mine, an all-girls’ convent and the other two, a girls’ secular next to an all boys’ secular. Hormones and teenage musk veiled the skies. Our uniform, the usual: an ankle length kilt, shirt, tie… The shoes were patent leather flats only.
The girls across the road were the envy of Highgate Road – non-uniform! A sea of multicoloured outfits and pupils, from all races and creeds, but one thing that unified them all was in the lower region – their UGGs. It was at that moment that I thought to myself: “those are the ugliest boots I have ever laid eyes on… I NEED THEM!” Now, I understood my mum’s willingness to send all three of her children to schools that required a uniform. 5 days a week, 190 days a year and 1 uniform that you purchase to last from year 7-11 – that’s a financial win! So, my good clothes were weekend clothes. Saturday’s were my opportunity to show out. I’d ask for UGGs, I’d get Kickers. I’d ask for UGGs again, I’d get Gucci loafers for church. Congolese parents, y’know?
A year later, UGG boots were everywhere and my mum was forced to purchase a pair. I had an oat, knitted, calf-length pair. My outfits were consistently coordinated around these boots. In that very same year, a Mail Online article read a spirited open letter calling for men to ditch the “frumpy foot sacks”. Alex Proud wrote, “I was prepared to tolerate them on women. For the gender that has given us everything from foot-binding to eight-inch heels, a pair of shapeless brown boots are never going to be much more than a minor footnote in the annals of pedestrian stupidity. But guys, why have you decided to put your collective foot in it?” Well, Alex, a similar thing happened to the boys several years later when the chunky dad trainer made a raucous courtesy of the Balenciaga Triple S.
Whilst everyone ran around trying to legitimise our need for statement footwear, away from the heralded, back-breaking heel (which, mind you, still continue to reign supreme), the infamous UGG boot was making an imminent return. But this time, it was more “fashion” than anyone could imagine.
Along came Glenn Marten’s Y/Project show for AW18 at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on the Avenue Montaigne, the burgundy-carpeted grounds, and pillared, egg-yolk walls. Anticipation ensued. Enter the models. Look 1 came down the catwalk in what turned into one of the most talked about shows of the season. It wasn’t until look 5, though; a cheeky camel-coloured boot peeks through the opening of a duster trench. The world recognised the silhouette, but, we didn’t know her. Has she grown? Refined she was for sure. Early last year, it had been revealed that Y/Project would be collaborating with UGG for a limited edition boot. At first, Glenn gave us heels. Thigh high, crotch grazing, slouched, yet form-fitted at the foot. 3 tiered midi boots… They were definitely fash-un, but were they wearable? Insert Badgal Riri and her super-stylist Jaleel Weaver. The pair came together to provide us with the answer that we all so longed to hear. Captioned: “extra af. #Chella18”. The world would not have accepted this from anyone other than Riri herself – the woman capable of sporting couture to brunch. We were sold.
Luckily for us, the revival continued. Sacai’s sock boot, Heron Preston’s utilitarian fantasy, the fab New Bape hiking boot, Philip Lim’s leather interpretation, Jeremy Scott‘s printed ones… Those were, particularly on fire. Many more have or are in the process of recreating this classic Australian surfer shoe and it’s been a thrilling sight to see. Many will risk their posture over it – trust me, we’ve all seen a girl who’s Uggs have leaned to the left and she couldn’t care less. New York’s sustainable alt label, Eckhaus Latta, brought UGG mules down the catwalk this past weekend. There’s no stopping this brand, form adding comfort and warmth to cornfield fashion – feet. Are we going to accept UGG as the newest street style staple or deny them as per? With the release of the second instalment of the New Bape collaboration – now featuring a fluffy, oversized, camel coat with matching boots as modelled by rockstar Lil’ Wayne. Bust down grills and chains, adorned in tats… UGG continues to align itself with cultural giants, and it won’t stop anytime soon. You can either hate from outside of the club or find a way to get in and join me there.