By  on May 14, 2008

Ugg Australia has called on Rozae Nichols, a Los Angeles-based designer whose line is known for its proprietary fabrics and handwrought elements, to design an outerwear collection.

The 14-piece collection ranges from $595 for a suede hooded pullover to $2,300 for a long shearling coat.

Nichols, whose eponymous brand for fall '08 featured shearling vests with asymmetrical collars, fringed leather vests and leather and fabric, experiments with shapes and avant-garde styles. For holiday '07, she designed a pleated balloon skirt that looks like an inflated accordion and jackets with uneven hems. Although Ugg is a traditional brand — the design of the boots and shoes doesn't change much from year to year — Nichols was eager to undertake the collaboration.

"I was very attracted to the project," she said. "I like leathers and shearlings. They're very interesting materials to work with. I thought, 'Let's apply some of the wonderful techniques we've developed here.'" Nichols said Ugg was "pretty wide open to [her suggestions] because they're basically a footwear company" and didn't come to the project with preconceived ideas.

"I've always admired the Ugg brand as having a very iconic style," Nichols said. "I really like the philosophy of the company. It's very authentic. It came from a very nonfashion point of view. Its origins were utilitarian. I like the great design that comes out of that necessity."

Nichols was careful to strike a balance between the fashion quotient and the brand's traditional attributes, such as its signature stitching. She created utilitarian chic pieces, including a reversible cropped shearling jacket, $995; reversible shearling vest with horn toggle closure, $1,300, and a shearling-lined glazed suede bomber jacket with antique zippers, $895.

"The approach was to concentrate on the strength of their shearling and bring to that a sense of forwardness insofar as the way we looked at a modern cut and silhouette," Nichols said. "But it's also classic because I didn't want the garments to upstage the classicism of the footwear. It was very challenging to bring a forward-fashion freshness to it. What Ugg represents to footwear and what we wanted to bring to the clothing is a sense of humble luxury. It's so genuine, there's nothing ostentatious."

Nichols believes the collaboration has staying power. "We're looking forward to a long [relationship]," she said.

In addition, Nichols said she would like to design handbags for Ugg. "Our brand is also interested in expanding the collection into accessories in spring or fall of 2009," she said.

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