To Ugg or not to Ugg?

The debate rages on in my head.  When I got my first glimpse of a pair of Uggs I thought they were Ugg-ly, hence the name.  However, as they became more and more ubiquitous, they grew on me.  I can’t decide if it’s ok that they grew on me or if I just gave in to a trend.  Where is that line anyway?  And if you end up liking it, does it really matter?

Regardless, did you ever think a respectable fashion magazine (for adults) would endorse Uggs as essential or standard in a wardrobe?  Neither did I until a few days ago… read more to see who endorsed them.

On my way back to Paris from Christmas break, I picked up the December 27th week copy of French Elle.  As I’m reading on the plane I come to the article “Phénomène: Les Ugg nous reobttent!”  (I don’t entirely understand, but basically it means that Uggs are back – just wait, it gets better) with the subtitle: “Vous aviez remise vos bottes fourrées?  Ressortez-les!  Leurs détracteurs voient rouge mais devront pourtant s’incliner: la Ugg est devenue un basique.” (emphasis mine) Basically it says “Have you put back on your furry boots?  Bring them out again!  Their haters see red but they should give in: the Ugg has become a basic

um… what?

I never thought I’d see the day the Ugg was embraced as a basic, or even acceptable in fashion circles – let alone in Paris…  Other than the size issues I like mine, but not really as a basic piece (like my chucks or my flat boots) but Elle France seems to want to change that.

Some choice quotes (please pardon my rough translations… and my comments):

C’est le come-back le plus massif de l’hiver: les Ugg boots sont à nouveau de sortie !  Dans les rues de Paris, on les croise en armada, aux pieds de teen-agers comme à ceux des dames chics de la rive gauche.  A New York, la Ugg-mania est à son comble, comntaminant jusqu’aux jeunes comédiennes de la série ‘Gossip Girl’.

It’s the biggest comeback of the winter!  Ugg boots are being worn again!  On the streets of Paris they cross in fleets, on the feet of teenagers as well as chic, left-bank women.  In New York, Ugg-mania is at its peak, reaching the young actresses of ‘Gossip Girl’.

(note on this one ^ they supported this claim with a picture of Leighton Meester, on set between shots wearing Uggs, which is completely different than wearing them for style… but I digress…)

Pourtant, la Ugg se porte à merveille.  “Elle est devenue un classique comme la ballerine, explique Bonita Durand, achetuse chasseures pour le Printemps.  La marque fonctionne très bien en magasin et est beaucoup copiée, signe de succès…

Regardless [of controversy over style], Uggs are wonderfully wearable [note: not sure of this translation] “They have become a classic like ballerina flats,” explains Bonita Durand, shoe buyer for Printemps [big department store].  “The brand sells well and is frequently copied, a sign of success.”

(note: no one was denying their success, it’s always been a question of taste.  And I hardly think they can be compared to ballerinas…)

“La dictature de la chaussure qui fait souffrir a pris fin.”

“The dictatorship of painful shoes is over.”

“La Ugg, c’est le tripmphe du “look crise” et de l’esthétique de la consolation, analyse Vincent Grégoire, chasseur de tendances au cabinet Nelly Rodi.  Cela répond à une logique de ralentissement du cycle des tendances.  Le consommateur en a marre de la nouveauté pour la nouveauté.  Il réclame le produit qui a fait ses preuves.  On ne jette plus, on récupère, on réinterprète les vieux concepts…”

“Uggs are the triumph of the “Crisis look” and the look of consolation,” Vincent Grégoire, trend-hunter (not sure about that word) for Nelly Rodi analyzes.  “They respond to a logic of  a slowdown of trend cycles.  The consumer is tired of newness for the sake of newness.  S/he reclaims the product that has passed the tests.  One doesn’t throw things out any more, one reuses, one reinterprets old concepts…”

Mais est-elle pour autant complètement dépourvue de pouvoir de seduction ?  Est-on sexy en Ugg + collant opaque + mini-jupe en jean ?  Le gros de la gent masculine oppose un grand “non” effaré a cette question…[mais la Ugg] nous rend plus humains.  Les femmes sont autre chose qu’être belles dedans.  Elle renvoie une image cool, libérée des contraintes de l’apparence.  On peut séduire en Ugg parce qu’on révèle notre côté raisonné, conscient, moins écervelé.”…Elle répond à merveille au message de l’époque : stop à la sophistication, marre de l’emballement des tendances.  Vive la beauté brute, la simplicité et le confort.

But are Uggs completely devoid of the power of seduction?  Is one sexy in Uggs, opaque tights and a denim mini-skirt?  The majority of men say “no” in alarm at the question…[But Uggs] make us more human.  Women are something other than being beautiful inside [I’m not sure I understood that sentence right].  Uggs give a cool image, liberated of the constraints of appearance.  One can seducie in Uggs because we reveal our reasonable side, aware, less flighty.”…They respond wonderfully to the message of the times: stop sophistication, enough enthusiasm over trends.  Vive [fine, long live] raw beauty, simplicity and comfort.

“…C’est la fin de la tradition européenne qui veut que la femme ait de petits pieds.  Avec la Ugg, on arrive au bout du phénomène d’accoutumance visuelle et sociale.  Les femmes peuvent se promener avec ces choses énormes aux pieds sans choquer personne.”

“…It’s the end of the European tradition that admires women with small feet.  With Uggs, we are at the beginning of a phenomenon of a new visual and social immunization [not sure about translation, alternate words given by dictionary: addiction, habituation].  Women can walk around with these huge things on their feet without shocking anyone.”

Now back to my opinion.

While I’m glad they’re playing up the women’s-lib aspect of this, and I appreciate the right to wear something comfortable (I do admittedly love Uggs in the right context), I don’t think I could go this far.  The article would make sense as a piece on trends, it is true that many, many people here in Paris (chic women and teenagers like the article says) wear Uggs, but I think they may be thinking about it too much.  In middle school and high school girls wear Uggs to be on-trend (the same way they wear (or wore, but judging by the number on Shopbop I’m going to go with the present tense) Juicy sweatsuits) but afterwards in the real world, women don’t wear Uggs or Juicy sweatsuits except in certain appropriate contexts, après-ski, when sick, when it’s really, really cold out and there’s snow, after wearing heels all day, walking the dog, getting groceries or if you’re special during filming or photoshoots, after surfing etc.

What’s so wrong with warm socks and pretty flat boots?  They’re comfortable too…

And as for equating the [re-]emergence of Uggs with the economy… I’m not so sure they ever really left.  While I think they’re right-on about reinterpreting older pieces (something I think most of us do in a normal economic climate) I don’t see Uggs being reinterpreted.  They’re still worn with sweatpants, with jeans tucked in and at times with skirts in the summer.

Still, I do have to admit that footwear trends may be changing, but I’m not sure it’s due to Uggs.  I love edgy boots, like the Frye motorcycle boots or big rainboots and while browsing fashion communities ( I see a lot of Doc Marten’s.  I think that’s more due to a re-emergence of grunge, which may be related to the economy, but not Uggs.  I see Uggs as a trend item that has a truly wonderful function, but is not a wardrobe basic or staple.

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