UGG was founded in 1978 by Austrailian surfer Brian Smith and his friend Doug Jensen in Santa Monica, California. Smith and Jensen first applied to be the United States distributors for the Western Australian sheepskin boot manufacturer, Country Leather. Unhappy with the quality of the boot, Smith decided to remodel the boot with improvements. He called it UGG and with an investment of $20K from family members, the company was in business. They sold 28 pairs in their first year.
Jensen sold his share to Smith the following year. The company struggled for a bit, until their boots were worn by the US Olympic Team in 1994. In 1995, Deckers Brand acquired the company for $14.5 million. Deckers began to expand the company internationally and experienced double-digit growth in the late 1990’s, but when the boot was featured on Oprah’s “Favorite Things” episode in 2003, the company had a staggering amount of growth, causing them to open a store for the first time in the SoHo district of New York.
In 2012 the company reached $1 billion in sales. The brand is often the target of copy-cat production, with thousands of fake UGG boots being confiscated each year in multiple countries, including the US.
While the company announced in early 2018 that they had reached revenue of $1.5 billion, investors are concerned that the brand is no longer popular and that the lack of diversification will cause problems in the near future.
UGG products, since they are made from animal skins, have been the subject of boycotts from various animal rights groups including PETA and the Animal Liberation Movement.
Headquarters for UGGS is located in Goleta, California.