Ugg boots manufacturing industry is currently using three main types of coloring processes:
- Roller coating
The spraying process involves applying a coloring agent to the sheepskin by pulling the sheepskin through a series of high-pressure jets (similar to spray-painting a car). Often this results in a thin layer of uneven color.
Roller coating is a similar process but instead of jets the coloring agents are applied using rollers giving a more even color to the sheepskin. Both of these methods, however, result in coloring just the surface of the sheepskin. Any light scratches will expose the inner white color of the sheepskin.
The best method (by far) of dyeing the sheepskin is drum-dyeing, which is when sheepskin is placed in a drum together with coloring agents and a number of other chemicals. This allows the coloring agent to penetrate the skin all the way through resulting in consistent, robust color.
Ugg boots manufacturing uses another major component – suede. Suede is the under side of the skin usually from lamb or a pig. The cheaper suede has a rougher surface and a weaker texture. Generally, suede is used to make counter-heels for the boots and sometimes for the toe protector (a small peace of suede that covers the front of the boots).
As far as the counter heel goes, make sure it is proportional to the rest of the boot. Some smaller manufacturers use a universal (the same size) counter heel for all the sizes of ugg boots. This makes the counter heel rather large for the size 4 boots and it sometimes even goes over the side of the seams.
The toe protector is a relatively ‘new’ innovation. Its aim is to prevent holes appearing in the front of the boots due to nails rubbing against the sheepskin.
Generally, this is not much of a problem for people wearing socks with the ugg boots, however, if you wear ugg boots barefoot and have long nails, this could be a problem. I guess this could be another reason to keep you feet well groomed!
In my opinion, the toe protectors take away the classic look of the ugg boots and make them look more muscular. For that reason, many men buy ugg boots with toe protectors.
Binding & Threads
The small strip of cotton that goes around the top of the ugg boots is called binding.
It comes in two different varieties – cotton or synthetic. Unless you are an expert, you would not be able to tell them apart. Some ugg boot manufacturers use contrast colour binding, making it stand out more. Depending on your taste, you may prefer a more subtle colour
In terms of the threads used, the only difference is the thickness of the thread. Obviously, the thicker the thread the stronger the seam. Again, it is difficult to assess what type of thread has been used simply by visually examining the boots. I guess you have to rely on the manufacturers reputation (unless it is stated by manufacturer).
There are two broad types of soles that are currently used in the manufacture of ugg boots: light-weight EVA and rubber.
EVA stands for ‘Ethylene Vinyl Acetate’ and is by far is the most popular sole used in the manufacture of ugg boots. EVA soles are light-weight, durable and easy to work with, making them a very popular choice.
There are, however, two main problems with EVA. The first one is the density of the material. The lower the density, the softer the sole is, and the quicker it will wear off. Good quality boots should use high density EVA soles. The second problem is air pockets inside the resin. Cheaper EVA resin has a large number of air pockets. When the sole is cut on the cutting press it exposes these cavities, making the soles unattractive and weak.
The second type of sole used is the heavy rubber sole. Sometimes these soles have a rough tread, making the ugg boots more chunky.
In reality, these soles are quite heavy and do not give any additional benefit to the boots, (apart from asthetics). Some experts will argue that rubber soles less slippery. At the end of a day, it is a matter of taste.
Recently, some manufacturers started to experiment with combination soles that use layer of EVA and rubber. In theory, it sounds good, but in practice, it is hard to say whether it improves anything.
Putting It All Together
Now that you have made sure the boots have the best raw materials available on the market, you can still buy dud uggs if the manufacturing process is sub-standard. The process of making ugg boots has not changed much in the past 30 years. It mainly consists of the following steps:
- Cutting the sheepskin and innersoles
- Cutting EVA soles
- Sewing the bits together
- Adding binding
- Gluing EVA soles
Simple! Of course, the above is an over-simplified process, but the actual process is not too far from this. It is the simplicity of the process that makes a lot of people attracted to ugg boots manufacturing. It is not uncommon in Australia to find ugg boots being made in a garage with some basic equipment and then sold on the markets.
The tricky part is to differentiate between professionaly made ugg boots and “garage made” ones.
It is not an exact science. Following are some tips for trying to pick good quality ugg boots:
- Straight, even stitching across all seams
- Proportional labels and tags
- All ugg boot panels are the same shade
- Proportional counter heel with double stitching
- Care instructions
- Printed sizing labels