UGG boots are a fashion trend that has redefined style to a new level. While it has an ancient history of its use, it also revolves around several controversies. Since they say good things garner the most attraction, these boots have equally attracted a lot of attention for both good and bad. However, for those who are curious about these boots, several questions still remain unanswered as to how they acquired their unique and tacky name and if they are ethically manufactured or not.
We decided to go deep down and research these boots, in general, to find out how they are manufactured and if they are worth the hype. UGG boots definitely UP the style game, but these boots are not for you if you are an animal lover. It is believed that several sheep are tortured, and lambs are slaughtered before the making of these shoes to acquire the sheepskin.
Would you choose fashion or buy a pair of boots that are made by torturing animals? Would you choose animal welfare over trend? We have it all covered in our article to help you discover how Uggs are made and if they are really worth wearing.
What Are UGG Boots: History
UGG Boots are made of proper sheepskin. They are known to remain in the limelight due to the controversy that follows their process of manufacturing. However, they rose to fashion right from the 1920s and were first used and discovered in Australia. It is believed that shepherds have found ugg boots to protect them from the wool yolk and the chilly environment. Before they took the shape of boots, they were being used only as sheepskin.
Later, they turned into proper boots and were used by sheep shearers and fighter pilots. These boots were found to be water-friendly as well. Therefore, the design became prevalent amongst Australian surfers who started using it in chilly water to protect their feet from frostbites.
While it was quite prevalent in Australia now, Australians decided to market these boots to California, United States. Brian Smith, the Australian surfer, decided to bring the Ugg boots to the USA market. These were now officially sold as Ugg boots. Nobody knows where the name came from, as it has no underlying history either.
Ugg boots became more prevalent in the 1994 Olympics when the USA team wore the now famous UGG boots. It also gathered some limelight in the USA due to the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2000 when Oprah called them her favorites. In fact, she even bought 350 pairs of Ugg boots for her studio audience. Exports and demand grew overseas, and the ugg shoes were used as surfing boots and proper fashionable boots. In 1995, Brian Smith sold Ugg holdings to a firm called Deckers Outdoor Corporation. Deckers now registered the trademarks for sales of Ugg in the USA.
However, in Australia, they are not considered fashionable boots and still remain a garment used for warmth and comfort. In fact, Australians think that the shoes look extremely daggy and use them as slippers, unlike those in the UK and the USA.
In the USA, Deckers promoted and marketed these shoes as a fashion trend. They even bagged in celebrities like Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez, and Cameron Diaz for their marketing campaigns. Roping in celebrities was one of their most significant achievements while they rose to fame almost exponentially.
The Controversy Behind UGG Shoes
Ugg shoes have been in the limelight for obvious reasons, being useful as well as bad. For good, they rose to immense fame due to Deckers in the USA, while they also had to face some copyright controversies. Secondly, since they are made of double-faced sheepskin, it also catches the eye of animal activists, PETA members, etc., who fight for animals’ welfare.
With so many stories and controversies, the question arises whether it is worth getting a pair for yourself and stay in the trend or support the welfare of animals and ban these shoes. We have answered a few questions and shed light on the various controversies surrounding these Ugg shoes for real.
Are UGGs animal cruelty-free?
After some immense research on what goes into making these shoes, we deciphered that Uggs are not cruelty-free. In fact, they are not vegan or vegetarian either. These are purely made of dual-faced sheepskin, which is obtained by slaughtering animals.
However, the Ugg brand that is a trademark under the Deckers Incorporation in the USA now claims that they do not slaughter sheep primarily for their skin. They claim that the sheepskin used in making their shoes is purchased from farmers who rear sheep for other purposes apart from sheepskin. These purposes include for food and sheep milk.
Ugg claims that they are committed to animal welfare and follow a strict animal welfare policy. They have a high standard of sheepskin quality and do not purchase it from sheep rearers who rear sheep for wool.
They claim to strongly believe that no sheep should be reared to obtain sheepskin and do not promote such practices for their products. In fact, Ugg claims that they do not even use wool from mulesed sheep. Mulesing is removing strips of wool-bearing skin from the sheep’s buttocks which is very torturous.
However, as per environmental ethics, wearing or using any parts belonging to animals is firmly against nature’s law. In fact, in Australia, sheep are tortured and slaughtered for sheepskin only. The sheep are also not kept in proper conditions, and they are severely abused before being killed.
While the truth behind Ugg shoes remains unclear, you may want to switch to vegan alternatives for boots if you are an animal welfare supporter.
Are UGGs made of real sheepskin?
Yes, UGG boots are made of real sheepskin. Like leather products are made from the hide of animals, so are UGG boots made of double-faced sheepskin. It feels very comfortable and keeps your feet warm due to the fleece inner lining and a tanned outer surface, and a synthetic sole. They can be used in water as well as during winters and are known to be very tough. Since they are quite suitable for the Australian climate, they are used like normal and regular slippers.
However, some big tycoons like Deckers claim to use ethical practices before acquiring the wool for manufacturing these boots. Nevertheless, it comes from an animal, alive, dead, or tortured. It is up to you whether you want to wear these boots manufactured using high-quality sheepskin sourced ethically or go completely vegan and look for alternatives.
No matter what, do not switch to fake UGG boots. Fake UGG boots are manufactured by supporting several malpractices like child labor and using contaminated or hazardous materials. The processes are generally unregulated, and the standards are way beyond animal welfare. Therefore, it is always best to choose and research wisely before you think of purchasing these boots.
Alternatives to UGG Boots
If you do not support animal abuse and still want to be in trend with UGG boots, some alternatives are 100% vegan. Several footwear brands like Bearpaw have various boot designs like Elle short, Elle Tall, and Loki boots that look comfortable and don’t compromise on the style either.
Another store called PAWJ has a range of ultra-cozy and stylish boots available in a varied range of colors. The best part is they look no different than UGG boots.
We also researched and got to know that Walmart has a range of similar boots available. These are made of faux sheepskin and have a fleece lining inside that serves to protect your feet during winters.
Imagine what could get better than supporting a good cause for animal welfare while still being in trend.
The bottom line
Uggs make for a great pair of fashion wear, but not at the stake of animal lives. There are several controversies over copyrights, ethical concerns, and a lot more. However, it all depends on one’s opinion.
Big shoe corporations claim that they source the sheepskin that is used in the making of these shoes through ethical standards. The sheep that are used to obtain sheepskin are primarily reared for livestock and food. After food, their secondary product that is sheepskin is used to make these ugg boots.
For those who support animal rights, using any animal skin materials is unethical as per environmental standards. There are vegan alternatives to choose from if you support animal welfare but still love wearing boots. They are equally protective and look stylish, just like UGG boots. But if you are someone, who does not settle for less, then make sure to source original UGG boots.
Read our article and tell us your opinion about animal welfare and the making of these UGG boots through the comments section below.
Brandon R. Katz is a registered professional nurse who has been instrumental in providing us with an informed opinion on the medical aspects of footwear. He graduated from NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and currently provides his services at a non-federal long-term care hospital in Brooklyn, NY.
Brandon proves to be the champion in the group of expert writers with his in-depth knowledge in foot health, how to take care of it adequately, and what shoes, socks, or insoles will be supreme for you. He has previously worked with hospitals where he has foreseen both inpatient and outpatient departments and has been a practicing nurse since 2009.
Brandon hails from Jersey City, NY, and has a loving family of four with a small popper called Rozo. His decision to become a nurse arises from the desire to be in the position of helping and rehabilitating people.