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UGG Since 1974 vs. UGG: The Unexpected Drama Rocking TikTok

Here’s all the tea on the messy history of UGGs and what really went down!

UGG boots
Illustration by Callie Lin

When you think of sheepskin boots, most think of UGG. This brand has become iconic for its comfortable, unique, and trendy designs.

After a recent TikTok video went viral, many people realized that there are two competing UGG companies. And to many people’s dismay, the UGGs that you’ve worn and bought over the years are not from an Australian company.

Rather, they’re from an American company that pulled a skeevy move on small Australian businesses.

What are UGG Boots?

UGG, which is the generic term for sheepskin boots, were worn by Australian surfers for their early morning surf sessions back in the 1950s. These boots originate from Australia, and according to UGG Since 1974 in a press release, are an “iconic part of our Australian culture.” By the 1970s, this type of boot was beloved by many as the product began to be distributed worldwide.

Fast forward to the 90s and early 2000s, they became a Y2K staple for any girl’s wardrobe. After celebrities like Beyoncé, Paris Hilton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Moss, and Oprah all gave their stamps of approval for the boot, they sold like crazy.

While UGG boots have been around for decades, they recently had another surge in popularity – particularly their platform boots. Platform shoes have been the rage for years and after the fashion icon Bella Hadid wore them, the demand increased again.

These boots are a staple for any person’s wardrobe, but after a viral TikTok, UGG is under the limelight for all of the wrong reasons. The difference and lack of connection between companies, UGG and UGG Since 1974, shocked people.

The David & Goliath of Boots

Arthur and Faye Springthorpe founded UGG Since 1974 during the rise of popularity around these boots. Before an American brand ever formed, UGG Since 1974 claims, “Australian manufacturers were producing an iconic Australian product that was growing in popularity year on year.” From the mid-70s and beyond, the sheepskin boots we see on the market today are thanks to these local mom-and-pop shops.

However, trouble was on the horizon for these small businesses because Brian Smith, the founder of UGG, got his hands on the trademark of UGG. Smith describes the start of his lucrative business in a Forbes article back in 2014.

“Importing six pairs of boots as samples, I registered UGG as the trademark and settled down to be an instant millionaire. What I didn’t know was that Americans didn’t understand sheepskin like Aussies do.”

Brian Smith, Founder of UGG

While Smith describes some difficulties at the beginning of his business, by 1995, Deckers Brands bought UGG, which also owns well-known footwear like Hoka, Teva, and Sanuk. Smith used Americans’ lack of knowledge about sheepskin boots and their common use across Australia to his advantage and hurt small business owners in the process.

With the trademark under Deckers Brands, this was a huge win for Brian Smith. This left UGG stores in Australia devastated because their culture and family-run businesses lost a core aspect of their marketing and brand identity overnight. Other brands like UGG Since 1974 now have to prove they’re the real deal even though they don’t have the crucial trademark.

While the Australian Government refuted Smith’s trademark of UGG in Australia, it was not refuted by the United States District Court of Illinois. As reported in The New York Times, the US Court of Appeals and US Supreme Court reaffirmed the US District Court decision.

This means that the American UGG company can operate normally within the United States and owes nothing to the smaller businesses in Australia that made these a fashion phenomenon in the first place.

Your UGGs are From…

TikToker Eliana Shiloh made a viral video highlighting the two different brands of UGGs. The video shocked social media users because everyone thought that their UGGs were made in Australia. This is because the brand now known as UGG was once UGG Australia before a 2016 rebrand.

@elshiloh

this is literally crazy i cant believe it #ugg #uggseason #uggsince1974

♬ original sound – elshiloh

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleged that Deckers, “made false and misleading representations by using the former brand name UGG Australia, when their products were made in China.”

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission accused UGG of misleading consumers because the only thing relating to Australia was the idea and fur of the boot. The assembly and production of genuine American UGGs take place anywhere but Australia. Production of UGG boots takes place in China, Vietnam, The Philippines, Cambodia, The Dominican Republic, and the U.S. according to Daniel Footwear. So clearly, Australia in the label is a bit of a stretch.

Additionally, Shiloh called into question the quality of her American boots, saying that they’ve gone down in quality over her years of purchasing. This can’t be of much surprise since these boots are now mass-produced at a fraction of the price, as shown in the UGG Since 1974 press release.

3 High-Quality Alternatives to UGG Boots

1) UGG Since 1974

It would simply be wrong if UGG, Since 1974, did not get a mention of other places to buy sheepskin boots. They make all of their boots to order, use Australian-sourced materials, and are one of the OGs. They look like American UGGs but will be comfortable and not fall apart after a couple of days. I think it’d be crazy not to give them the business they deserve!

@uggsince1974

Theres no other place an UGG boot should be made, than Australia, where its heritage began 🫶🏽 #uggsince1974

♬ original sound – UGG Since 1974

2) Emu

Another great option is Emu. This is another Australian sheepskin boot business that sells high-quality products. If shoppers are looking for boots that are a little different from the traditional look of UGG’s then these are for them. Not only will they stand out with their cute and sometimes classic looks, but they’ll also stand out among all the other sheepskin boot wearers!

@alexisnicoleofficial

@UGG® is a BRAND …. And not a good one. Owned by an american brand Deckers and made in China. @EMU Australia are AUSTRALIAN AUTHENTIC BOOTS MADE IN AUSTRALIA! Find these in my LTK. easily found in my linktree. #ugg #uggboots #emu #sheepskinboots #bootseason #uggshoes

♬ original sound – ALEXIS NICOLE 🐇

3) Sheepskins Downunder

Last, but certainly not least, there is Sheepskins Downunder. This brand is another authentic Australian brand that provides the same chic, comfortable, and cute designs people get here in America. They will provide consumers with the same high-quality boots they remember from back in the day while still being unique.

@tatiannadtayo

Did you know that UGGs are no longer made in Australia? That is why the quality is so much lower. Sheepskin Down Under is the same company that originally created UGG and is still named UGG Australia only in Australia. UGG Australia sold the Name “UGG” to Deckers Corp. and they traded marked the name UGG worldwide. If you want REAL and LEGIT Uggs, visit Sheepskindownunder.com if you live in the US ❤️✨ #ugg #sheepskindownunder #uggaustralia #uggseason #ugglife🧦

♬ Popular – From “Wicked” Original Broadway Cast Recording/2003 – Kristin Chenoweth

If people are going to splurge on sheepskin boots, they want to make sure that they’re a high-quality product that will last at least a couple of years. All three of these companies will provide exactly that. Additionally, consumers supporting these small businesses make a statement against capitalistic greed and the unfair rulings set against them. Simply put, supporting these businesses is a win for everyone.

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Written By

Curtis Teegardin is a recent graduate of the Columbia Publishing Course ('23) and is breaking into the magazine world. As someone passionate about fashion, trends, and the ever-changing fashion landscape, he can't wait to share fun and informative pieces with Trill Magazine readers.

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