The Billion-Dollar Ugly Boots

It's this time of year again, when the leaves change color and fall, the temperature drops, and women -- and a growing number of men -- break out their UGG boots for the season.

Some love UGG boots, spending hundreds of dollars per pair, while others gleefully mock them. Regardless of how you feel about UGGs, there's no denying their transformation from a cult fashion object for Australian surfers into big global business -- $1.5 billion per year.

And the "luxurious comfort" brand, acquired by outdoor footwear company Deckers Outdoor Corporation in 1995, keeps getting bigger, with a new line of home goods.

This is how UGG grew from a small shop in Southern California into a fashion giant.



Australian Brian Smith founded UGG with $500 in start-up funds in Southern California in 1978 to sell sheepskin shearling boots. The Aussie style was originally designed to help surfers combat chilly weather.

A pair of UGG boots, via Wikimedia Commons



Going international

California-based Deckers Outdoor Corporation acquired UGG for $14.6 million in 1995 and expanded it into an international brand. During the late 90s, UGG experienced double-digit sales growth.

UGG boots, via Wikimedia Commons



The star effect

UGG boots surged in popularity after being featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2000 and appearing on the feet of celebrities in Hollywood. The "star effect" helped the brand with young, fashion-minded consumers.



Business legend

UGG sales surpassed $1 billion in 2011. That same year, it launched UGG Collection, a "made in Italy" high-end line marking its entry into the world of high fashion.

Source: Deckers Outdoor Corp. annual reports
The $395 UGG Carmela boots of the UGG Collection



Guys, stop hating on UGG

Despite the fact that UGG boots consistently appear on lists of "most hated fashion items by men," UGG opened its first mens store on 5th Avenue in New York City in 2012. Mens footwear contributed 10 percent to total sales that year.

A photo posted by 338online (@338online) on



One in four women have UGG boots

A 2013 survey conducted by showed that 26% of American women own at least one pair of UGG boots.



Moving beyond boots

UGG sales reached $1.5 billion in the fiscal year that ended in March 2015. UGG sales account for 83 percent of Deckers Outdoor Corp.'s total revenue. The brand is now breaking into apparel and home furnishing, producing items like $4,500 sheepskin blankets and soft bathrobes.

UGG sheepskin bed blanket $4,500