The Australian ugg boot traces its origins back to at least early last century when World War I pilots were
pictured wearing their fleece-lined "Fug Boots" (Presumably flying ugg boots!). Blue Mountain Uggs go back to
1933 with shearers finding them cosy and warm and in the late 1950's, Mortel's Sheepskin Factory began
producing a line of "apache ugh boots". Then in the late 1960's Australian surfers decided it was real cosy to
jump out of the surf and into a pair of sheepskin boots to help get warm. Their original ugg boot style was
very basic - essentially two pieces of sheepskin in the shape of a boot joined together down the centre-front
and back with a soft sole attached to the bottom. Yes - they didn't even have hard soles. In fact, they were
really only a glorified sock. The general consensus is that the name is coined from the term "ugly boot" and
ever since then, Australians have referred to their sheepskin boots as ugg boots, uggies or uggs. Regardless
of the history, it is and always will be a generic term for sheepskin boots in Australia. Ask any Australian
what an ugg boot is and they'll say sheepskin boot. It's as 'ocker' (slang for 'Australian') as meat pies and
kangaroos. Contrary to some stories proliferating on the web, it would be difficult for any one person to lay
claim to making the "first" pair of uggs or ugg boots and it was quite likely invented over and over by
different people given they do look - well - sort of "ugly".
Over time, many manufacturers and retailers of sheepskin boots have cropped up. One Australian fellow - Brian
Smith - took some sheepskin ugg boots from Australia to the US and began selling them. Variations of his story
can be found all over the web but there were many others who also sold ugg boots throughout the world even
before him. Eventually, in the mid-1990's, a big US footwear company Deckers Outdoor Corporation, bought into
the ugg boot scene. Sadly, Deckers have laid claim to the term "ugg" despite its generic-ness and public
domain use (and its entry into many aussie slang dictionaries) and despite other Australian manufacturers also
selling them into the US as an 'ugg boot' from as far back as their origins can be traced. Apparently, Deckers
Outdoor Corporation no longer manufactures its products in Australia. A portion is made in New Zealand with
the rest being made in China. This is despite much of the product being labelled 'Original UGG Australia'.
The ugg boot story is now a classic David and Goliath battle. The smaller, original, Australian long-term
manufacturers are being pushed around (and literally just that - receiving 'cease and desist letters' and
'legal threats') by Ugg Holdings (yes - the American company) who on one hand claim they sell an original
Australian ugg boot yet doesn't manufacture their products in Australia.
For anyone in search of a pair of real Australian sheepskin footwear, I implore you to support the original
manufacturers, the little guys, the ones behind the legend and buy your genuine (yes the real, real thing)
Australian sheepskin footwear made by a truly Australian companies.
Sections of ugg boot history supplied by Aussie