“I’m hoping UGG will be the next accessible luxury phenomenon.” That’s how Andrea O’Donnell, Fashion Lifestyle president of the Deckers Brands, group that owns the famous ovine fur boots’ brand, spoke to WWD. Hired 5 years ago, O’Donnell had to go beyond the initial skepticism that surrounded her to solidify the evolutionary view she had for UGG. Her view is now accelerating towards a lifestyle-focused direction, with ovine leather at the center.
UGG’s step towards lifestyle was the Fluff Yeah model, introduced in 2018. After that, many collaborations were initiated to craft different types of the classic UGG boots. The latest was the Telfar Clemens, which will be also launched in “UGG leather”, famous now for the iconic shopping bag that it’s used for. Moreover: UGG launched its first apparel collection in 2020, with the goal of growing it in the next few seasons, enriching the outerwear offering. Knitwear and activewear complete the mix.
Winning choices? Yes. For example, in the third fiscal quarter (October – December 2020), the brand recorded a growth in sales equal to +12.2% on yearly base. Dave Powers, CEO of Deckers, commented to WWD that he sees this first period as a prequel for more robust growth in the coming 5 years. The objective is to make the apparel segment worth between 10% and 25% of the business, thanks to Europe and China.
Ovine leather at the center
The lifestyle evolution didn’t focus on ovine leather and fur in the traditional sense. With regards to the material’s sustainability, Andrea O’Donnell has a fairly clear view. “It is our heritage material and there are a lot of positive things about it; it’s a by-product of the meat industry, and if you look at both its biodegradability and its durability. Our customers wear their Classics for an average of five years and the carbon footprint is really low. O’Donnell explained that UGG is working with Humane Society “on “stress testing ethical protocols”, to reduce waste by also taking in more leather pieces with imperfections, compared to the past.
Photo from ugg.com