With everything from embellished denim and boldly-colored hosiery to old school Louis Vuitton monogram bags and Juicy couture track suits quickly coming back into style thanks to the cyclical fashion nature of fashion trends, Ugg Australia is working to help bring back another circa-2005-trend: Its shearling boots. In addition to recently tapping Jeremy Scott and Philip Lim to design collaborations, and introducing hip, young influencers like Lil’ Yachty, Ugg has released its Fall/Winter 2017 ad campaign with a varied cast, including Twin Peaks star Kyle MacLachlan and music icon Kim Gordon, hoping to reinject its brand with relevance.
The footwear brand has also looked to artist Uzmaki Cepeda, photographer Zackery Michael, and musicians Fletcher and Wyatt Shears – who were two of Hedi Slimane’s go-to faces during his most recent tenure at Saint Laurent – for its Frederic Auerbach-lensed campaign.
Uggs’ impending collaborations – paired with its recently-released, star-studded campaign – come on the heels of a minor resurgence of its classic styles in 2015, when the brand tapped Kendall and Kylie Jenner to visit one of its New York-based brick and mortar stores and share their shopping photos on Instagram. The move – and the Instagram posts that followed – spawned quite a bit of traction amongst the fashion press and consumers, alike, but not enough to help ward off the brand’s fall from mid-millennial glory. In the 2000’s, the company was selling a pair if its Classic Boots every 8 seconds.
Nowadays, demand has swiftly fallen and in March, the brand made headlines, as investment management firm Red Mountain Capital Partners announced that it was pushing the board of Deckers Outdoor Corp – Uggs' parent company – to explore a sale of the company. Red Mountain, which holds about 3.3 percent of Deckers' outstanding shares, said in the letter that the apparel maker's stock had underperformed across all major indices over the past three to five years.
While the Deckers-owned brand’s recent attempts to regain the interest of in-the-know consumers seems promising (maybe), Ugg likely dropped the ball in a big way by not lobbying Vetements for a collaboration when the Swiss-based brand trotted out its Spring/Summer 2017 collection in July 2016. For S/S 2017, Vetements showed a collaborative collection, which included outside brands, such as Levi’s, Hanes, Manolo Blahnik, Juicy Couture, Carhartt, Eastpak, Canada Goose, Lucchese, Mackintosh, Dr. Martens, Reebok, Church’s, Alpha Industries, Champion, Kawasaki, Schott, Comme des Garçons, Brioni and more.
In its place as a guest member on the couture calendar (regularly scheduled brands showed their Fall/Winter 2016 haute couture collections in Paris at the same time) and generally as one of the buzzier brands of the moment, Vetements S/S 2017 was one of the most highly anticipated showings of the week.
If Juicy Couture – one of the brands with which Vetements head creative Demna Gvasalia and co. collaborated with for S/S 2017 – is anything to go by, the placement on Vetements’ runway has been nothing short of a major springboard to regaining relevance. Despite a number of failed efforts to relaunch following its heyday in the mid-2000’s, Juicy Couture has seemingly only regained its footing following the Vetements show and subsequent marketing efforts by Vetements, including a shop in Bergdorfs, coverage/editorial placements on just about every major fashion site, and sightings on Kim and Khloe Kardashian, Rihanna, and Kylie Jenner, among others.
In short: Thanks to the recent Twin Peaks remake, Kyle MacLachlan, is likely a known-name for many young consumers. Kim Gordon is a name worth checking (although I do wonder if the 64-year old musician will be able to get millennials and Gen-Zers to run out and by Ugg boots). Lil’ Yachy is – who Nautica recently tapped him to help revamp and sell some of its throwback goods (in line with the resurgence of 1990’s and mid-2000’s trends) – is a closer bet in terms of romancing the younger crowd. Hedi Slimane muses, the Shears brothers, might hold influential weight in certain crowds. And Jeremy Scott certainly manages to sell a lot of Moschino iPhone cases.
Taken together, this seems like a well-rounded group that might be able to win over a wide array of consumers. But if Ugg wants to make a real comeback, it needs to do more. In particular, it needs to take a page from Juicy Couture and buddy up to the most relevance names in fashion and pop culture (i.e., Rihanna) – whether it be a brand like Vetements or the people that wear it.