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Uggs - Not so Aussie after all

Editorial Staff

The iconic fashion boots UGG are famously Australian.

Or so consumers were falsely told by Ozwear Connection, a wholesaler of footwear and accessories in Australia.

And then there's the question of exactly what is an "ugg" boot.

This is confusing.

According to the website of an American company called Deckers, "In 1978, a young Australian surfer founded the UGG brand on the shores of Southern California." There's a history at https://www.ugg.com/ugg-timeli....

Deckers have taken what was, originally, shabby-chic product and, through associations with far better known brands, risen to be a fashion statement. It's opened UGG branded shops all over the world. But not in Australia.

While Deckers have trademarked the brand UGG in many countries, in Australia they have a problem: ugg boots have been around a long time and they are not made by Deckers. In fact, there seems to be almost no controls over who can make Australian uggs. The only thing is that, if they say or imply that they are made in Australia, they really should be made in Australia.

The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACC) has ordered Ozwear Connection to pay a penalty of AUD25,500 for giving the false impression that their "Classic Ugg" boots were made in Australia. According to the ACC " Between at least January and April 2018, Ozwear claimed on its website it is “100% Aussie owned” and that its “Classic Ugg” range were made using “the best materials available in Australia”. Prior to May 2018, Ozwear also attached a tag that was green and gold, shaped like a map of Australia and included the words “this exclusive premium label is uniquely Australian owned brand for authentic Australian Ugg boots”."

They were made in China.

“Country of origin representations can be a powerful marketing tool for businesses, as many consumers are willing to pay extra for Australian made products,” said ACCC Deputy Chairman Mick Keogh, going on to say "When false or misleading representations are made about a product being Australian made, consumers may end up paying more for no reason at all and businesses who are genuinely making their products in Australia lose out."

And in Australia, Ozwear's UGG is big business. See https://ozwearuggs.com.au. Its boots are the UGGs that, until the big brand push by Deckers are what people think of when the name UGG is used. They are not the world's prettiest boots by a long, long way. Form follows function, not the other way around. The website says "As one of the popular ugg brands, we have access to the best design and materials. We source locally and worldwide."

Note that it says "ugg." That's because ugg has become a generic term. Ozwear admits that it's only one brand of ugg. Indeed, their trademark appears to relate to their logo rather than to the word UGG.

No one is questioning the quality of the made-in-China Uggs, only that, while the brand may be Australian, the manufacturing is not. Interestingly, also, the ACCC did not comment on the source of the materials and it may be the case that the sheepskin is, indeed, produced in Australia and shipped to China for manufacturing only.

Perhaps someone from Ozwear would like to tell us that.