Crafted to last: The history behind the UGG brand’s Classic Boot
13 October 2022
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Rewind to the beginning of our Classic Boot story and you’ll find that although not much has changed with its unique design philosophy, modern innovations have helped to reimagine the next chapter for the style. It made the most of the natural benefits of sheepskin to keep surfers' feet warm and dry after early mornings in freezing water. Four-and-a-half decades later, that simple, honest design and universal style have proven to be the go-to for millions globally. But with growth comes responsibility, and UGG is taking the challenge seriously with innovative updates that bring the spirit of our Classic Boot into the world of today.
When the Classic Boot was propelled to a celebrity staple, its popularity grew and it became an accessible fashion essential — democratic yet inviting of individualist self-expression. With its newfound popularity, our Classic Boot was due for an upgrade. “It was vastly different many years ago,” says Helene Frain, Vice President Footwear Design for UGG, who leads the team responsible for the brand’s creative design thinking. “It was very raw, which was interesting.”
The changes that have shaped the boot’s evolution have been in the refinement of this “raw” quality. “The product that we have today is much better ,” confirms John Graebin, Vice President, Global FLG Product Development and Materials. “The aesthetic is much more pleasing, much cleaner, and much more consistent than it used to be. It’s been a good evolution in terms of quality – it is truly a product that is designed to last.”
The Classic Boot’s balance of form and function is something that both Helene and John’s teams continue to build on, weaving in future-conscious updates to enhance its longevity, while ensuring the process is ethical and sustainable.
Many of our Classic Boots are made in factories that support and empower women with the help of HERproject. 100% of the sheepskin used by UGG is certified by the Leather Working Group, an organization that helps make responsible production and sourcing a reality across the global supply chain. Sustainable initiatives such as UGGrenew ensure our Classic Boot lasts for years. Plus, we’re innovating to reach our target of 65% of all non-fibers used in UGG footwear to be made from preferred materials by 2027.
Here, Helene and John share more about how craft, sustainability, and personal connection to the Classic Boot are all essential to its legacy – from the first boot to today’s design and the future UGG Classic Boots to come.
ON CONNECTION AND CRAFT
We’re in a world where technology leads – so, craft-led design has become very romantic because it connects us to things and people and our surroundings. This is how we approach the design of our Classic Boot. It responds to basic needs of protection, comfort, and coziness, but it also intuitively tells a story of artisanship and human connection. It means so many things for so many people, so it always carries that personal connection.
ON BEAUTY IN SIMPLICITY
John Graebin: One of the things that is unique to our Classic Boot is its simplicity. Most shoes have layers of materials and laminations involving adhesives and glue. However, our Classic Boot doesn’t have any layers; it is made from few materials. The sheepskin is both the lining and the upper. Of course, you have some stitching and binding to attach the bottom and the upper together, but overall, it’s simple.
HF: The Classic Boot began as a quite simple design solution with a clear purpose: to protect your feet after coming out of the cold Pacific Ocean. Now it's the epitome of form and function, and it really respects the main material it's born out of. That’s the beauty of this design. Despite that simplicity, you can take inspiration from it from so many angles, which means it's great for a designer to work with. The simplicity of a great piece of design teaches you to listen.
JG: Over the years, even as our Classic Boot gets a little more unstructured and relaxed with wear, it’s part of the beauty of the product itself. It ages well, and wearers embrace that as part of the character of the boot, which adds to its durability and longevity.
ON ITS UNIVERSAL VERSATILITY
JG: Our Classic Boot was ahead of its time because it was – and still is – a gender-neutral shoe. It really is a universal style: you can dress it up or down; it looks great on anyone, anywhere. Plus, there are few other shoes more comfortable than the Classic Boot. The design makes it easy on and off, and you can wear it without socks.
HF: Our Classic Boot is for everyone. There's such a democratic aspect to it, which proves its power because it's really touching everyone, all kinds of demographics. It's evolved tremendously, which is exciting. I love seeing it on different people – that inclusivity proves that the design is right. It’s super universal.
ON ITS SUSTAINABLE EVOLUTION
JG: We have done quite a lot with our Classic Boot to improve its sustainability. One of the first changes was on the outsole design, eliminating the majority of waste from the die cutting when transitioning into an injection moulding process. We also continue to explore sustainable outsole innovations that use plant-based materials. The upper is Leather Working Group (LWG) certified sheepskin that ensures high environmental standards.
HF: Our Classic Boot is unique and timeless – it's got so much power, and there is still a lot that we can do with it. There's a sense of pride in its identity. Going forward, in terms of design, it's especially important to keep that honesty. It’s also important to keep the comfort and feel of our Classic Boot, which is at the core of it. If you don’t have that, you lose the entire experience. That’s always going to be number one.
Shop our UGG Classic Boot, here and extend the life of your favorite Classic Boots with UGGRenew, here.