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Lifestyle

October 27, 2013

Ode to Ugg: In or out, boots have staying power

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“Ignore the rest of your outfit. It’s nearly impossible to build an outfit around them,” he says.

However, don’t wear them with socks. Not because they’ll look bad, but you’ll be missing out on the sheepskin sensation that makes them special.

BACKSTORY

The beach bums actually had a similar idea to Ugg Australia founder Brian Smith, who brought these boots from Down Under to southern California in the 1970s. They were particularly popular with male surfers.

But Deckers Outdoor Corp. bought Ugg in 1995 and saw its potential with young women. “We inherited its inventory and its customers,” says Rishwain, “but what blew my mind was the sell-through. We were pretty much a fourth-quarter brand, but it pretty much sold out year-round.”

Ugg wasn’t going to be a one-hit wonder, however, says Rishwain, who has been with the brand since the Deckers deal. With success came a confidence to create clogs, slippers and the cardigan knit boots that are almost as popular as the original. Ugg needed that depth of merchandise before opening its first stand-alone store in 2006. Now, there are riding, high-heel and combat boots.

LOYALTY

Nordstrom’s Powers says part of Ugg’s staying power comes from consumers who replace worn-out products with new ones. Since the line isn’t dictated by “trends,” shoppers come back for the same thing over and over again. She compares it to a favorite running shoe.

Also, notes Powers, people always refer to the brand name — it’s never the fuzzy moonboot or shearling slipper.

The products are pricey, she allows, but she has no complaint about quality or cut corners. (Nordstrom.com lists a pair of women’s classic short boots at $154.95.)

“One of the things I love about them is that they are such a genuine company and the customer comes first to them. That breeds longevity,” she says.

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