Many womenswear trends ultimately cross over to the men’s market, but not all. Take the cheap Ugg is really punting its footwear in the direction of gentlemen – motorbike boot-style Uggs, rugged waterproof Uggs – but we’re not biting.
It can’t be a matter of effeminacy; they’re meant to be unisex. Those who first favoured the wool-lined sheepskin boot were not only men, but men of a macho stripe befitting footwear seemingly named after the main conversational gambit of the caveman: first world war aviators and sheep-shearers in rural Australia.
In December of last year, Kitson, a small chain of boutiques on the west coast of America, announced it was going out of business. The first Kitson store had opened back in 2000 on Robinson Boulevard, just on the edge of Beverly Hills; it was the kind of shop where you could impulse-buy a cupcake-printed tote bag or, during a crucial Hollywood breakup, “Team Aniston” and “Team Jolie” T-shirts. The biggest tabloid stars of the early millennium – Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears – flocked to Kitson, and were often photographed by paparazzi as they walked out with the store’s signature baby blue shopping bags draped on their arms. Kitson was an ideal place to pick up the unofficial uniform of that era’s celebrity set: a candy-coloured Juicy Couture velour tracksuit and a pair of sheepskin-lined sale Ugg boots.
When Kitson, so emblematic of a certain pre-financial crisis excess, announced that it was closing its doors for good, it felt like the death knell to a ditzy and much-derided era. Many of the stars of that time – Lohan, for example – have lost their lustre, and leggings have replaced velour tracksuits as the modern woman’s errand-running outfit of choice. (The hot pink Juicy Couture sweats are now literally museum pieces: they will be on display at the V&A later this spring.) As a result, they have come to embody a particularly repellent cultural moment that everyone is glad to be over with. In 2012, while filming The Bling Ring – based on the true story of a gang of southern California teenagers who burgled the homes of celebrities (including Paris Hilton) in 2008 and 2009 – Emma Watson tweeted a picture of herself in character as Nicki, wearing a short-sleeved pink Juicy Couture tracksuit and a pair of Uggs. “Nicki likes Lip Gloss, Purses, Yoga, Pole Dancing, perfect Ugg , Louboutins, Juice Cleanses, Iced coffee and Tattoos.”
Perhaps the failure of perfect Ugg to capture the male imagination has to do with their celebrity adherents. There seem to be only two male celebs who’ve been pictured in them. One is Lloyd from The X Factor, although it says something about the nature of the fame conferred by that show that his photo on Wikipedia is captioned “a boy wearing Uggs”. The other is Ronnie Wood, whose celebrity is certainly more lasting, but whose endorsement still lacks oomph. You see Ronnie in Uggs, you don’t think: “There’s the effortlessly stylish Ronnie Wood in wool-lined sheepskin boots! If I buy something similar, maybe a fraction of his ineffable panache will rub off on me!” You think: “That old fella’s woken up still half-cut and put on his girlfriend’s shoes by mistake.” As a result, Uggs remain an entirely female concern.