Phillip Lim is giving Ugg boots an overhaul
Just like the Victorians dressing their infant sons in pink or the Stuarts wearing high-heeled shoes to beef up their calves (leg presses, be damned), over the course of history many things we now consider female fashions originated as male ones (and vice versa). However, a more recent example might be Ugg boots. While today these soft sheepskin shoes might be considered a women’s style staple, when the brand was founded in California back in 1978, you’d have been far more likely to see a pair sported by surfers on Malibu beach than on their girlfriends in the mall. It’s this cool, Californian heritage that Los Angeles-born, New York-based designer Phillip Lim wants to revive with his new curveball capsule collection for Ugg – the first one exclusively for men that the brand has ever produced.
And he’s doing it in a number of ways. The 13 pairs in the line range from simple riffs on the instantly recognisable shape (for example, the addition of a central zip on the front, or a tattoo print on the heel) to things that are a little more com
plex (such as plaid material from the designer’s Autumn/Winter 2017 collection wrapped around the ankle).
Perhaps the biggest departure for the brand – and our personal favourite style in the collection – is Lim’s reinvention of the Ugg as a duck boot. Available in two colours (a cool cream/brown combination and an eye-popping orange/green combination) and two lengths, this model sees that signature toasty shearling interior surrounded by leather channelling at sole-level. In short, these are next level Uggs with serious style credibility – plus they’re some of the warmest, most weatherproof shoes that’ll be hitting the market this winter.
To find about more about the collection, we called Lim in his studio over in the US to chat about how the collaboration happened and what California style means to him.
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Phillip Lim: This is actually something I approached them with. This came about when I was working on the autumn collection. When I work on my clothes, sometimes it gets very sartorial – so I was thinking, “What could set this off in the opposite way?” Back in the day when I was living in California, I used to wear Uggs around and my memories are really authentic: of surfers, mountain climbers and skaters who would actually wear Uggs in such a cool way. I thought that using Uggs with the collection would bring that kind of unexpected authenticity to it. I called them and they were quite surprised, but they said, “Yeah, let’s do it”.
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My experience of Ugg is not what it is fully today, do you know what I mean? Now you see it in malls, you see it on young kids and on teenagers, but when I was growing up it was more about outdoors men kind of peacocking their own subcultures of surf and skate. You aspired to be them, and that’s what I wanted to bring back with this collection. Even with the campaign shoot that we did, we cast five guys that to me represent aspirational style heroes within their own context. I want to show the different facets of this tribe of men who I imagine would wear Uggs.
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Oh, late-Seventies through to the early Nineties. Obviously, back in the day Uggs weren’t a fashion thing. They’ve become fashion over the years, but back in the day they really were a lifestyle – they were a functional item of clothing, utilitarian.
I wanted to honour Uggs. It’s such a visual statement and, to me, it was a case of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. I was canvasing through old pictures, and I came across these images of four pilots from the Twenties, Thirties and Forties who were just wearing these jumpers with these huge zippers, so that they could just be easy pulled-on in a hurry, and I thought that was both really cool looking and super practical – so, I put these big zippers on the front of the shoe. Then I took actual textiles from the collection and kind evolved one of the Uggs into a duck boot version, with the channelling in the front.
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California is laid back cool – as simple as that.