Whether you own a pair of UGGs or not, I’m willing to bet you know exactly what they are. The footwear is so beloved among its target audience that it has remained in high demand since its first rise in popularity in the early 2000s–proving that UGG boots are no fleeting fashion trend. But the question that has been around as long as UGGs have is why are they so expensive?
Here are ten reasons UGG Boots are so expensive:
- Most of them are imported from New Zealand and Australia.
- The brand is popular
- They are always in fashion.
- They are functional.
- They are comfortable.
- They are highly durable.
- They are lined with fleece.
- They are constantly in demand.
- They go through an intensive tanning process.
- Extensive labor is involved in the production process.
Let’s take a closer look at why UGG boots are so expensive yet continue to be in high demand and so widely used. Keep reading the rest of the article to uncover the secret behind the market success of UGG boots despite their high price point.
1. Most of Them Are Imported From New Zealand and Australia
Most of the UGGs that are currently in circulation in US markets are imported from New Zealand and Australia, where they originated and continue to be made today. There are varying versions of the origins story of UGGs.
The most well-known one is that this type of footwear was first invented by shepherds who tied sheepskin around their feet as makeshift sheepskin foot covers to keep warm. The UGGs we know and love today was later invented by surfers in the 1970s who liked the way they kept their feet warm after coming out of the water.
Therefore, when UGGs made their way into the US, their market value started high as an imported products. The initial cost became the baseline upon which all subsequent prices were later based. UGG’s popularity with the US fashion-forward community helped increase sales and drive its value.
2. The Brand Is Popular
No one actually knows how UGG boots got their name. Some speculate it is short for “ugly” because of the odd appearance of the boots. Others are of the belief it’s derived from “ugh”, an expression conveying disgust. But no one associated the brand with the word ugly after it began its rise to fame in 1994 when the US Olympics team wore UGG boots. The world took notice.
But nothing etched UGG boots in history like Oprah’s endorsement when she gave the boots a place of honor on her list of “Favorite Things” and bought 350 pairs for her studio audience. The canonization of the boot in Oprah’s list of favorite things catapulted the brand into pop culture. And seemingly overnight, everybody wanted to get their hands on a pair of UGG footwear.
UGGs have not lost any momentum since. While other spitfire fashion trends have come and gone within the decade, UGGs continue to hold fast to their place in the fashion world. With more models emerging, catering to all types of audiences, UGG boots continue to be a best-seller.
If you have any doubts about UGG’s continued popularity, read here about how demand went up by 242 percent during the lockdown.
3. They Are Always in Fashion
Market value doesn’t seem to dwindle because UGGs are always in fashion. Some people might think of them as winter wear, but a lot of people have no problem wearing these boots during other seasons as well. Those who live in rainy states have even found ways to make their UGGs water-resistant.
Since making a splash in the 2000s, UGGs remain an enduring fashion statement. A luxury one at that. Many fashion trends have come and gone, with each decade having its unique fashion identity, but the popularity of UGGs has not ebbed. Their versatility has made them a unique fashion item–they match almost anything, and they are also unisex.
The fact that they are unisex also means they have a greater market reach, unlike gender-specific fashion trends whose target audiences are limited to one gender or the other. The greater the UGGs’ market, the more they can afford to keep the prices high.
4. They Are Functional
As mentioned, Uggs are thought to have originated as footwear for shepherds looking after herds in New Zealand and Australia. They were designed to protect their feet from rough terrain and cold temperatures. Far from being just a fashion statement, UGG boots are also functional, making them ideal for rough winter seasons. They keep the feet feeling toasty and cozy in the fleece-lined insoles.
These types of boots are also excellent for running errands out in the cold weather, and they will match with almost any attire, too. You don’t have to overthink what you need to wear to match your UGGs. No wonder their functionality helps keep their prices up. Buyers will get a lot of use out of their purchase, allowing them to justify the hefty investment.
5. They Are Comfortable
UGGs may be popular for their style, but the boots are unrivaled when it comes to comfort. They are considered the ultimate comfort footwear. Their comfortable fleece lining has converted many skeptical buyers who were at first doubtful about the claims made by UGGs and its legion of believers.
As new converts, these former skeptics now swear by how comfortable their UGGs are and will eagerly debunk false beliefs about the boots, such as they cause feet to sweat. Any once reluctant buyer will tell you that they keep your feet dry because the fleece wicks away moisture.
They will be the first to tell you that you are not only paying for the fashion but for comfort as well.
6. They Are Highly Durable
Durability is certainly a factor that bolsters UGG’s market value. Originally designed as footwear to be used by shepherds in the outdoors of New Zealand’s and Australia’s rugged terrain, durability was definitely a consideration by the boots’ earliest makers. It’s a quality that hasn’t changed over the decades.
UGG-owners reportedly use their boots for years, through all kinds of weather and even fairly frequently. Many UGG owners claim they were sold on durability as much as comfort and style before they made their purchase. The brand has remained consistent in this respect and has not disappointed UGG lovers yet.
You will almost never hear of a defective pair of UGG boots. The brand’s record for quality control has been stellar through the decades. This is owed in part to the fact every pair is handcrafted to perfection and closely inspected by its craftsman for even the slightest flaws. Only after a thorough inspection is a boot approved for export.
7. They Are Lined With Fleece
An Aussie UGG boot manufacturer offers an explanation for why UGG boots are so expensive, and it makes perfect sense. They have double-faced fleece. Not many boots have this unique feature. A double-faced fleece means the fleece and hide are attached. Without the inner fleece lining, UGG boots would be significantly cheaper.
The fleece and hide have to go through various processes that make them usable in the manufacturing process. Not to mention the cost of rearing livestock from which the fleece is taken. This racks up costs early on in the manufacturing process, and that impacts market prices. I’ll expand on these processes further later on in the article.
8. They Are Constantly in Demand
The constant demand for UGGs has helped to keep their value up. Some of the most popular designs can sell out in minutes. The constant clamor for UGGs means the brand has never had to worry about adjusting its prices to appeal to a broader consumer base. Somehow people are willing to look past the price tag to see the product’s value.
Another way of putting it is UGGs are expensive because they can be–people buy them anyway. So why mark them down when they are selling well and are projected to continue selling well?
9. They Go Through an Intensive Tanning Process
We’ve talked about all the reasons why UGGs continue to sell despite being pricey: they are imported, they are comfortable, durable, highly functional, and constantly in demand to name a few. But on the logistics side of things, UGGs are expensive because their double-faced fleece goes through an intensive tanning process that prepares the hides to be cut into panels. This process happens in stages, each stage being complex and precise. The stages are:
The sheepskins need to be preserved before processing can begin. The skins are submerged in colossal tanks containing approximately 15,000 liters of salt water and continuously swished or swirled around for up to ten days. The process takes plenty of skill as well as patience.
At the end of ten days, the skins are thoroughly rinsed in cold water to remove salt and any dirt from the pelt and wool. This process called soaking lasts up to sixteen hours. This is followed by fleshing, where excess fat and tissue are stripped off the skins so that tanning solutions can better penetrate and soak into the skins.
A forty-five-minute wash in warm water and surfactants are known as scouring follows. When this is all done, the skins are put through a process called pickling, which effectively lowers the pH of the skins, making it easier for tanning agents to penetrate.
When this process is finally done, the skins are tanned for another sixteen hours. A complex mixture of temperatures, collagen, and salts needs to be delicately balanced to prevent putrefaction or rotting of the skins. The wool and skin are then dyed in a process called fatliquoring which takes three to four hours.
Are you starting to see why the logistics justify the market costs? Wait, there’s more. Syntanning follows and is a dyeing process that comes after the removal of pelt grease. And if you thought that was the last step, you are mistaken as the skins need to go through a few more processes such as finishing, staking, combing, ironing, and clipping.
Only after going through all these processes can the skins be cut into panels to make your UGG boots.
When animal rights groups protested the use of sheepskin, US-made UGGs made the switch to synthetic sheepskin to keep in line with US laws. While this was a cost-cutting move, this did not affect market prices because, as said earlier, aside from the colossal production costs, UGG boots are expensive because they can be.
10. Extensive Labor Is Involved in the Production Process
So remember that seemingly endless and exhausting process of getting sheepskins ready to be made into UGG boots? Every tedious step of that process is accomplished by sheer human labor. Making UGG boots is not only a meticulous process; it is a human labor-intensive process as well.
Every piece of dirt or debris on the fleece is painstakingly combed out by a human being. Imagine the labor costs of such a venture. Every boot is handcrafted, making it all the more costly. If they aren’t 100% handcrafted, then they aren’t authentic UGGs.
There are countless imitations or cheaper alternatives in the market, but the quality and craftsmanship that goes into every pair of UGGs are unparalleled. A master craftsman sews the sheepskin panels together and hand stitches them to synthetic soles with breathtaking precision.
Therefore, when purchasing a brand new pair of UGGs, you’re also paying for the time and expertise of professionals making sure that the product is up to par.
UGG boots have certainly made a name for themselves in various circles and the fashion world at large. Their functionality, comfort, and durability are all qualities that describe UGG boots and make them so sought-after. The masterful craftsmanship that goes into each pair is nothing short of impressive. UGG boots are expensive because you aren’t only paying for the footwear; you are paying for a unique experience.