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Style Points is a weekly column about how fashion intersects with the wider world.
When Glenn Martens’s models strode out on the runway, their upper thighs encased in fluffy tan tubelets, the front row did a double take. Were those…could those be…UGGs?
Whatever your associations with the 40-year-old boot company—surfers, early-aughts Pamela Anderson, the heroines of The O.C.—its 2018 collaboration with the avant-garde Paris label Y/Project probably wasn’t one of them. It was as though the ultimate normie footwear had returned from a year abroad at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp— alma mater of Martin Margiela, Demna Gvasalia, and Martens.
“They weren’t expecting it,” says Andrea O’Donnell, president of UGG & Koolaburra by UGG of Deckers Brands, of the reaction from the fashion crowd, “and they certainly weren’t expecting it in Santa Barbara,” where the company is based.
“The fashion community engaged with it very quickly,” she says, adding with a laugh, “I think internally within UGG there was quite a lot of consternation.” Since then, UGG has leaned into collaborations with indepeneddesigners, from Eckhaus Latta, which created square-toed versions, to, this season, Telfar, Molly Goddard, and Feng Chen Wang. In fact, a few years ago, “we changed our whole collaboration strategy” to focus on these kinds of labels, she says.
We’re well into an era of intense cross-pollination between luxe brands and meme-worthy shoes: a short, but by no means complete, list would include the notorious Balenciaga Crocs, Opening Ceremony’s linkup with Teva, and countless high-end Birkenstock collaborations from Valentino to Proenza Schouler. This season was no different: Balenciaga’s Vibram toe shoes were one of the most talked-about accessories of spring 2021.
But the designers UGG has…