The UGG brand is best known for its iconic comfy boots, in the same way Louboutin is famous for its heels and Levi’s is famous for its denim jeans. UGG has fluctuated in popularity since its inception in the late 1970s, always reinventing the brand to stay on-trend while still selling their beloved boots. But after all this time, do UGG boots still have the same quality?
UGG boots are still good quality footwear. As the company has shifted its goal toward eco-conscious sustainability, its products may be of higher quality than ever before.
Granted, UGG boots have a heftier price tag than similar products you’d find at your local big-box store. So before splurging on a pair, you want to make sure these boots are worth it. Below, I’ll explain how UGG continues to make quality footwear and how their sustainability mission gives their boots a long life worth paying for.
The Quality of UGG Boots
The high quality of UGG boots stems from two main factors — the material used and the way UGGs are made. UGG boots are hand-stitched with sewing machines, not simply run through a machine’s conveyor belt. But what makes UGG stand out is the way it sources its materials and what these materials are.
UGG only uses high-quality, ethically sourced materials in its production process. UGG uses animal-sourced materials and recycled materials for its products.
All materials sourced from animals come from UGG’s vetted partners. UGG has a strict animal welfare policy and requires all its sources to follow the Five Freedoms:
- free from discomfort
- free from pain
- free from distress
- free from fear
- free from hunger.
UGG’s use of a sheepskin for their iconic boots has been the largest source of public outcry. However, all the sheepskin used by UGG is a byproduct of the food industry. That means no live sheep are being harmed to make boots.
Also, UGG only sources sheepskin from countries with animal welfare laws, such as Australia, Spain, Ireland, the UK, and the US. After this, the sheepskin is processed at Leather Working Group certified tanneries.
Leather Working Group is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting transparency and ethical production within the leather industry. By using exclusively Leather Working Group-certified facilities, UGG makes sure that the sources of the leather are using ethical and sustainable practices.
Farmers source wool without hurting the sheep. If you know anything about raising sheep, you’d know that many of them need to be sheared. That doesn’t mean UGG has forgotten about the sheep’s well-being, however: In 2015, UGG helped found the Responsible Wool Standard International Working Group, creating the Responsible Wool Standard.
When a farmer is Responsible Wool Standard-certified, that means the farmer is using the five freedoms with their livestock, as well as ethical land management and animal management practices. The RWS working group also provides a kickback program to assist farmers in making the changes needed to be RWS-compliant.
98% of the wool that UGG uses is repurposed wool. They use their trademarked UGGPure technology to make use of sheared fibers that would normally be scrapped to reduce waste.
UGG only uses down that is Responsible Down Standard certified, meaning the suppliers follow the Five Freedoms. All the leather and suede UGG uses is Leather Working Group certified. UGG also requires an audit report from Brazilian suppliers to ensure they’re not participating in unethical practices like deforestation or slavery.
In addition to reusing wool that might otherwise be thrown away, UGG also strives to use other types of recyclable and eco-friendly materials such as:
- TENCEL Lyocell, a carbon-neutral, plant-based wood pulp fiber
- SugarSole, a foam made from renewable sugarcane
- LACTAE HEVEA, handmade soles made from the Hevea rubber tree
- Hemp fiber, a blend of 45% hemp and 55% cotton
UGG’s goal isn’t only to create long-lasting materials. They also aim to do so in a way that has a minimal environmental impact. In fact, plants like sugarcane (which, as shown above, are used in SugarSole) can have a positive environmental impact by taking in CO₂.
UGG’s Sustainability Goals
In 2020, UGG launched its FEEL GOOD strategy for creating a more sustainable future. As mentioned above, they ensure that products — whether animal-source or plant-sourced — are sourced ethically. This includes reusing products when possible and refusing to work with vendors contributing to deforestation or human rights violations.
UGG’s Renew Program
UGG doesn’t want you to throw your worn-down boots away. They’ve partnered with NuShoe, a shoe repair company, to help bring roughed-up UGGs back to life. The UGGRenew program includes:
- New bindings
- New soles
- Steam cleaning with naturally-derived ingredients
This service allows UGG customers to wear their boots longer while using eco-friendly products.
Caring for Your UGGs
To ensure that your UGGs last as long as possible, it’s essential to take proper care of them and ensure you aren’t pushing them past what they can handle. While UGG boots are good quality footwear, that doesn’t mean you can throw basic care and maintenance out the window.
For example, not all UGG boots are waterproof. Most come with a pre-applied treatment to repel a light amount of water but aren’t meant for heavy snow and rain. To care for these UGGs, you must regularly apply a new waterproofing treatment and keep them out of water. Each product’s description on the UGG website tells you which products work best under what conditions.
If you’re concerned about water damage, UGG also offers waterproof boot guards that fit most of their boot designs. Not only do these protect against water, rain, and snow, but they can help keep boots free from mud or road salt.
UGG also offers tips for care and cleaning on their website so your boots can last as long as possible. Different materials may need different care and cleaning methods, but you should treat all leather and lambskin with a protective spray before wearing them outside.
Good quality footwear, final thoughts…
UGG’s boots haven’t lost their excellent quality over the years. If anything, their quality is better than ever. With UGG’s new FEEL GOOD initiative driving sustainability goals, UGG is working to ensure your boots are ethically sourced, and that you’ll be able to wear them for years to come.