Southern California brand Ugg is pushing further into the fashion space.
After several seasons of high-profile footwear collaborations with Jeremy Scott, Eckhaus Latta, Heron Preston and others, and seeding the Fluff slide on next-gen celebrities including Cardi B and the Hadid sisters, the Southern California-based brand synonymous with the early Aughts is launching a seasonal ready-to-wear collection.
Although the brand rooted in feel-good, après-surf sheepskin footwear has been offering a range of outerwear, loungewear and sleepwear for several years, it’s entering the clothing category in a more design-focused way with the launch of its fall collection on Thursday. Nordstrom will be the exclusive retail partner for the launch, and the collection will also sell through 15 of Ugg’s 130 retail stores worldwide.
“We have been incubating and testing apparel over the past four years, and the one place we’ve executed well is in the lounge/sleepwear category, which presents in a cohesive way with our slippers,” said Jennifer Somer, general manager of ready-to-wear at Ugg. “But looking at where Ugg was, the next step to push forward was with a more elevated expression of apparel.”
The brand hired a new team of senior design talent to work on the collection, which has been in the works for 18 months, and will have four deliveries a year. Currently, cold weather apparel and accessories represent 10 percent of Ugg sales. “We anticipate apparel playing an increasingly important role in the business,” said Somer.
The designers focused on feel and fabrication as guiding themes, using sherpa, faux fur, fleece made from recycled cotton, and at the pinnacle from a price perspective, shearling.
The 30 unisex styles lean into sportswear with fuzzy pullover jackets with contrast panels and zippers; fleece hoodies and biker shorts, and cashmere sweat suits, all featuring bold color combinations such as fiery orange and fuchsia, camel and pear, Spanish red and icy blue. Shearling and faux fur coats and jackets in teal, baby blue and other vivid hues round out the offerings. Prices range from $58 to $1,995, with most settling in the $100 to $250 range.
Launching during the pandemic, when comfort clothing is pretty much the only thing happening, was a coincidence, Somer said.
“I would love to take credit for being so smart, but honestly, nobody could have anticipated the environment we’re living in. We created an apparel assortment that made sense for the brand — and is perfect for what people are looking to wear now.”
To launch the new ready-to-wear, Ugg has made over its web site, and will be offering enhanced content and a new shopping experience around apparel, spearheaded by a separate p.r. and marketing effort. On the brand’s fashion strategy moving forward, Somer said Ugg will be continuing with design collaborations, including in apparel as it evolves as a category.
Celebrating its SoCal roots, for the first time this fall, Ugg will be sponsoring a museum show — the Hammer Museum’s “Made in L.A.” exhibition, which runs from the end of September through Jan. 23. “It’s such a privilege to be associated with that museum and have an interaction with some of the artists,” said Somer of the collaboration, which includes Ugg showcasing two of the show’s emerging artists, Fulton Leroy Washington (aka Mr. Wash) and Sonya Sombreuil, in short films and on limited edition T-shirts available at the museum.
Founded in 1978 by an Australian surfer on the coast of California, Ugg is owned by Goleta, Calif.-based Deckers Brands. In its first-quarter earnings reported in July, Ugg’s net sales decreased by 10 percent to $124.7 million compared to $138.5 million for the same period last year.