Fashion for the new world: Highly unlikely yet totally predictable return of uggs


It started with Rihanna, as these things so often do.

It was the halcyon days of 2018 and the pop singer and fashion icon wore a pair of Uggs to — where else? — the Coachella music festival.

Not your average pair, like the classic boots made famous by a Juicy Couture-clad Lindsay Lohan at the height of her Us Weekly fame in the early aughts. This pair was a collaboration with Belgian designer Glenn Martens of the avant-garde label Y/Project, who exploded the ostentatiously unsexy style to Brobdingnagian proportions, yielding a version that was high-heeled and slouchy and reached well above mid-thigh. A picture of Rihanna in the wader-like footwear amassed more than 3.3 million likes on Instagram, and even Vogue couldn’t resist their strange allure.

“The CFO was not super-excited about them,” Andrea O’Donnell, Ugg brand president, recalled. After seeing a CNN news segment of the Y/Project runway show in which they were unveiled, “he came in and said, ‘Tell me that I didn’t see thigh-high boots, on a catwalk, worn by a man,’” she said, laughing.

O’Donnell had been hired in 2016 to help reposition the brand with consumers who associated Ugg with the classic boot in its purest form: shin-high, slip-on, mocha brown and lined in sheepskin. It was a casual style, to be worn with yoga pants while running errands. Ugg wanted to widen its image to encompass more fashion-forward associations.

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