From Paris to Nicole and back again, we recount the rise of the most ubiquitous boot of the 2000s with a history of celebrities in UGG.
I’ll never forget the first time I laid my eyes on a pair of UGG boots. It was December 2001, a month otherwise dominated by learning the choreography to “I’m a Slave 4 U” and sneaking into hotel pools with my friends in Miami while on Christmas Break. One day, as I sunbathed on the beach across from my grandmother’s condo, a fellow pre-teen passed by while wearing a butter yellow bikini top, itty bitty jean shorts and a pair of those iconique chestnut bread loaves. I wasn’t sure what to think of the ensemble, but I marveled at this fashion plate’s ability to regulate temperature. A boot on the beach in 90-degree weather? Now that is truly ground-breaking.
20 years after their initial rise to fame, it’s cozy winter weekends (or just every waking moment from November through March) that I associate with UGG, but when they were first incepted in 1978, they were indeed designed for wear on the beach. Brian Smith, an Aussie surfer living in California, designed them as a contemporary spin on the sheepskin boots surfers in his native country had been wearing for warmth post-surf for years. In 1994, the boots got a boost when the U.S. Olympic team wore them in Lillehammer during the Winter Olympics. From then, UGG boots remained a surfer staple until 2000, when Oprah put the boots on her “Favourite Things” list and gifted her audience members with pairs of the boots.
The rise of UGG
The rest, as they say, is fashun history and along with Juicy Couture terry tracksuits, Von Dutch trucker hats and Louis Vuitton Murakami purses, UGG boots became hallmarks of 2000s style. The look reached fever pitch at my high school around 2002 and was the subject of my first published article – a scathing review, in which I railed against the new ideals of comfort and the idea that anyone would tuck their pyjama pants into boots. Three months later, I became a proven fraud when I bought my own lavender pair, ensuring myself that they were different than everyone else’s because they were pastel. I wore them until my front toe poked out the front several winters later.
The rise of UGG boots could not be reflected upon without mentioning its explosive presence on the celebrity circuit. Paparazzi culture reigned supreme in the 2000s and every day, there were new shots of celebrities in UGG: a Hollywood starlet donning a pair between takes of movies, a tabloid couple while walking their dogs and so on. In 2003, Kate Moss wore jeans tucked into a scuffed-up pair while on a walk in West London. In 2004, Beyonce donned ‘em with a pleated mini before singing the national anthem at the Superbowl. Paris and Nicole lived in them. Ashley Tisdale once encapsulated the entire decade of the 2000s with a pair of blue UGG boots and a matching T-shirt that proclaimed, “Thou Shall Spend.”
Images of celebrities in UGG boots are ubiquitous, not only in marking the style of an era, but also those with influence becoming part of our everyday lives. Before daily Instagram stories that revealed every part of one’s day, there were shots of UGG wearers shopping for groceries that were emblazoned with, “Celebrities, they’re just like us!”
Even Sarah Jessica Parker was spotted wearing a pair in-between takes of the Sex and The City movie. Carrie Bradshaw would likely have rebuked the mores of practicality. But SJP knew. (She’s subsequently worn them just about everywhere.)
Reinventing a Classic
As the 2000s faded into the rear view, UGG boots became more synonymous with practicality than red carpet staples. But they never faded from our hearts, minds and closets. In 2018, Y/Project debuted a slew of knee-high UGGs galoshes on its menswear runway. “The UGG Classic boot is one of the most recognizable shoes in history,” wrote Glenn Martens, the creative director of Y/Project in a press release at the time. Back in August, Kylie Jenner paired a pair of UGG slippers with a Chanel dress for the launch of her skincare line. Next year, buzzy label, Telfar Global, will debut its own collaboration with the brand.
Meanwhile, this year represents the first time the classic UGG boot has been redefined with the brand launching its Classic Clear Mini, a see-through edition that reveals a cozy shearling interior on the outside. Perhaps most importantly, the Clear Mini is ~waterproof~ and weather-rated to temperatures as -2˚C (that’s -4˚F) which means there’s no reason to wear anything else all winter long.
As the great Cardi B. once said: It’s officially UGG season.