Ugg boots – soft sheepskin boots with a warm, fleece lining – were the surprise fashion must-have for women in 2004. Ugg-wearing celebrities covered magazine pages the world over, and mere mortals searched high and low for the latest Ugg item, from pink sheepskin boots to whole ranges of sheepskin clothing. The phenomenon was such a surprise because Ugg boots had for decades been nothing more than practical Australian sheep-shearing boots.
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There is some debate as to whether the first ever Ugg boots originated in New Zealand or Australia, but in any case they had by the later twentieth century become very popular with surfers, who wanted to wrap up warm after a few hours on the crashing waves. It is claimed that Ugg boots will keep feet warm in temperatures as low as –30° F.
Nowadays, Ugg (a term apparently derived from the word ‘ugly’) has become more of a trademark than a mere generic term. Indeed, there have been some very serious legal disputes between family-run Australian sheepskin manufacturers and American fashion moguls trying to capitalise on growing demand by trademarking the word ‘Ugg’.
Ugg shoes come in a variety of styles and colours. The best-known Ugg product is, of course, the original tan-coloured boot, which is often worn without socks since the interior lining is so warm and protective. There are now also shoes, slippers, clogs and walking boots, in a range of browns, pastels and more outrageous colours. The collection has recently extended to bags and whole sets of outdoor wear, including jumpers, winter coats, ponchos, mini-skirts, not forgetting the ultimate accessory: Ugg handbags.
You can buy Ugg shoes online or in high street shops. If buying online, it can be tempting to buy shoes half a size too big ‘just in case’. With Ugg boots, it is worth bearing in mind that the cushioning effect of the interior wool lining will mould to the shape of your foot and become more compacted as you wear the boots, so choose a shoe size that will ensure a snug and comfortable fit.
The fact that Ugg products are made from real sheepskin means that careful cleaning and maintenance is vital. Always hand-wash Ugg shoes, and never put them into a washing machine or tumble dryer. Use cold water and specialised Ugg cleaning products if you need to remove dirt and stains.