Uggs Q&A

Who Invented Ugg Boots

uggs with dresses and skirts

It’s hard to imagine getting through a cold, winter day without your favourite pair of ugg boots or slippers.

Uggs have become a wardrobe staple across the world, to help us get through the cold year in, year out.

So, who do we have to thank for this incredible invention? Who invented ugg boots? Well it depends who you ask.

You see, when it comes to the history of ugg boots, there are a number of different stories about how it all began and who was the original inventor.

uggs with dresses and skirts

One thing that is never questioned is the origin of Uggs.

Ugg boots and slippers were first made in Australia and continue to be produced down under to this very day.

Using the highest quality Australian sheepskin, there is nothing quite like the Australian make and feel.

Now back to its original inventor…

It is believed that the idea of ugg boots was first brought to life in the late 1800s. It began when Australian shepherds used leather straps to secure sheepskin around their feet and ankles. By the 1920s, the ankle straps further developed into boots which were often worn in rural Australia by sheep shearers.

But it wasn’t until 1933 that reports of the first commercial ugg boot manufacturer surfaced.

It is believed that New South Wales based company, “The Blue Mountains Ugg Boot Company” was the first organisation to manufacture and retail ugg boots. They were closely followed by Frank Mortel’s of the Mortel’s Sheepskin Company in the 1950’s, who is still in operation today.

While Frank wasn’t the first to produce sheepskin boots, he claims that he was the first to brand them “Ugg Boots” in 1958 after his wife said that the first pair he made were “ugly”.

Despite records of the commercially manufactured first uggs dating back as early as the 1930’s, ugg boots only became a fashion trend decades later.

In the 1970s, the Australian surfing community began sporting ugg boots as a fashion statement, which saw the boots skyrocket in popularity overnight. The Gold Coast and Byron Bay surfing communities became fond of ugg boots as they were the perfect warm place to put their cold, post surf feet.

uggs with oversized outerwear

And it was then, that another man by the name of Shane Stedman, claimed to have been the mastermind behind the iconic sheepskin boot.

The legendary surfer trademarked the term “Ugh-Boots” and has since gone on record stating that he was the original founder and creator of the famous Australian boots.

Although it’s unlikely that Stedman created the ugg boot, he was the reason that uggs started gaining traction across the globe, particularly in the US.

Advertising for Australian made ugg boots began popping up in Californian surfing magazines. Competitive surfers across the US were also keen to get their hands on the warm boots, with a number of local surf shops stocking limited quantities of uggs which were brought across from Australia after competing in surf competitions down under.

One Australian surfer in particular made the most of uggs’ rising popularity in the States.

Brian Smith packed his suitcase full of ugg boots, grabbed his friend, Doug Jensen and the pair were headed for the USA to kickstart their new business venture; importing uggs.

Upon arriving in the US, Smith trademarked the name “UGG” and together with Jensen, began importing the sheepskin boots and selling them to locals. Their business rapidly grew and by 1985, Smith trademarked a second name, “Original UGG Boot UGG Australia”.

Ugg Boot fever had well and truly hit the US, and Smith’s business was growing bigger by the day. By 1995, Smith – who was still based and operating out out of America, purchased Shane Stedman’s trademarked term “Ugh-Boots”, along with the other names that remained to become the outright owner of the name UGG.

And business was not slowing down. In fact, it continued to boom.

California’s surf and celebrity culture helped ugg boots not only maintain their popularity, but boosted them drastically. And it was more than just a fashion statement, with Australian products proving immensely popular amongst the American locals.

At one point, it was estimated that Smith’s Company, Ugg Holdings, had an estimated 80% of the global market for the boots.

In August 1995 and at the peak of his powers, Smith sold Ugg Holdings to Deckers Corporation for $14.6 million. Almost immediately, Deckers moved away from manufacturing and importing uggs from Australia and moved production overseas.

By 1999, Deckers had secured additional registrations in the US and other countries and began sending out cease and desist letters to Australian manufacturers that were selling sheepskin boots outside of Australia.

The power move by Deckers led consumers to question what the ‘original ugg’ was, where it was produced and where it could be purchased.

Let us clear up any confusion for you.

Of all the uggs in the world, nothing will compare to the quality, love and care found in Australian made uggs. Always look for the green ‘Australia Made’ swing tag on your next pair of uggs and enjoy a lifetime of warm winters ahead!