UGG Australia is a division of Deckers Outdoor Corporation, and is a maker of quality footwear.
The trademark is registered in over 130 countries, including the United States, for footwear, bags, clothing, outerwear, home goods and a number of other products. The parent company, Deckers is headquartered in Goleta, California. The company also maintains operations in Flagstaff, Arizona, to oversee e-commerce.
The company is best known for its sheepskin boots, typically referred to as the "Classic", to which they recently added a Classic Slim line. These boots are available for both men and women, though they are typically substantially more popular with women. Due to their warmth, sales are heavily seasonal and weather dependent, with frequent spikes during heavy snow and cold weather.
The original boots are based in traditional Australian design, originally quite popular with surfers looking to warm their feet after spending a lot of time in the water. Over time, that style has developed into the current Classic style, and these boots have become iconic and easily recognizable worldwide. The brand itself has become a fashion trend, and with the expansion of the line, these highly versatile boots are used for a wide range of fashion styles.
While the brand is most popular with women, it increasingly appeals to men as well, and as the line has expanded into other varieties of footwear, they now produce a wide range of attractive men’s footwear in addition to the more classic styling. While a premium brand, discounts are also frequently available for the men’s line, as well, helping make these boots more affordable to people new to the brand.
As the brand has developed, the product line has expanded to include many other aesthetically oriented products like footwear, leather, canvas, and other materials used in handbags, outerwear, hats, knits, gloves, home goods, blankets, pillows, rugs, and many other products that all augment and expand the existing product offering.
The parent company, Deckers, has expanded to over $1 billion in annual sales since its humble beginnings and sales of just $14.5 million in 1995. While the brand has produced consistently growing profits, it has also delivered great returns for its shareholders.
The company was founded by the Australian surfers Brian Smith and Doug Jensen in California in 1978. Smith had attended UCLA’s Anderson School of Management and was living in Santa Monica, California when he and Jensen applied to Country Leather for rights to distribute their products in the United States. As they ultimately were unhappy with the brand, Smith decided to register the trademark and raise money from his friends and family to found an importing company. The company imported and sold only 28 boots in its first year, so Jensen turned over his ownership stake to Smith to manage, as he had other commitments.
Smith grew the company successfully and set up Ugg Holdings Inc., registering a US trademark on a rams head log in 1985 with the words “Original UGG Boot UGG Australia”. As of 1994, fully 80 percent of total sales were within Orange County, California, but they were beginning to gain an international reputation. With the launch of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, the brand shot to international attention as many members of the U.S. Olympic team wore the classic boots and their visage was seen widely by viewers around the world.
With the increasing success of the brand, Deckers Outdoor Corporation acquired the business from smith for $14.6 million in 1995. Deckers continued to expand it and the brand experienced annual double-digit sales growth as it became an international brand under Deckers’ guidance. Later, in 2003, Oprah Winfrey included the boots and the brand as one of “Oprah’s Favorite Things”, leading to a massive surge in sales. This led the brand to open their first physical store in the SoHo neighborhood of New York City in 2006 and later that year, it’s first international store in Japan. As a premium brand, and to maintain prestige, there is limited use of coupons or other promotions, though they are available.
In 2009, the brand began a partnership with the legendary shoe designer Jimmy Choo, with a special capsule collection that combined the styles of both brands. The next year, they released a new line based on a collaboration with the jewelry company Swarovski. A year later, in 2001, they began to advertise their products to men, initially featuring Tom Brady of the New England Patriots in its ad campaigns. Brady has since been seen regularly wearing his classic boots, and they have caught on with many other football players, expanding the brand's reach with men.
Seeing the initial success with their men’s line, UGG for Men opened its first standalone store in New York City in 2012, and the brand has consistently grown sales with men in the years since.
The majority of the products are produced in China, though many other countries are involved in production, and the majority of the sheepskin used in the products is still sourced in Australia. Some controversy has revolved around the use of sheepskin, but the brand has made great efforts to ensure the skin utilized is skin that would have otherwise been wasted, as sheep are commercially raised for other uses, including meat and milk production, and the sheepskin would otherwise simply be a waste product.
The brand further expanded by launching its home goods line in 2013 and continues to grow that portion of the company, along with extensions of the boot lines for which they've become so famous.
As of 2015, UGG also began a collaboration with Pixar to launch a capsule collection featuring the brand's lifestyle with the film “Inside Out”, Pixar’s newest.
Since appearing on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2003, The iconic sheepskin classic boots have been an recognizable style worldwide, and are heavily sought after. Oprah purchased over 350 shoes for her staff and audience due to her strong enthusiasm for the brand. While many thought the trend would not last, the boots have seen a tremendous resurgence, outgrowing previous sales. In the years since the boots appeared on Oprah, many celebrities, including Kate Upton, Blake Lively, Kate Hudson, Sarah Jessica Parker, and many others have been seen wearing the boots. Vogue editors also wrote about the experience with the brand in 2013, following the regular posting of testimonials by many fashion icons like Alexa Chung. Other celebrities, like Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and Leonardo DiCaprio have also been seen wearing their iconic boots, continuing to make them appealing to a wide audience.