Tom Brady will be getting some fancy new footwear this fall.
Ugg, the footwear maker endorsed by the quarterback, is launching an upscale men’s line of shoes, boots and gloves under the Ugg Collection moniker. Sourced and made in Italy, the high-end offering follows on the heels of a women’s Collection line launched last fall.
“We wanted to take the brand up a notch and celebrate the craftsmanship that comes out of Italy,” said Leah Larson, vice president and creative director of the Santa Barbara, Calif.-based company. “There are some core Ugg customers that will be interested in the Collection product, but it will also bring in new customers for us.”
The men’s Collection footwear ranges from $325 to $795, while core Ugg for Men footwear ranges from $90 to $325.
The men’s Collection launch this fall comes after a major marketing push for the core Ugg men’s business, centered on an advertising campaign featuring Brady last fall. The New England Patriots quarterback will return in a new men’s campaign for the brand this fall. A separate campaign, without Brady, will herald the launch of the men’s Collection range.
The new lineup is centered on rugged, rock ’n’ roll-inspired designs, incorporating hand-dipped vachetta leathers, stacked leather heels and Italian wool shafts. The effect is broken-in and masculine but with a sophisticated, hand-crafted look.
One café racer boot in Buffalo leather is adorned with brass buckle details while others have wool insets. Some pre-fall styles include a dressier aesthetic, with suede chukka boots and lace-ups in bright colors of teal, blue and green, with contrasting painted outsoles.
Larson said she was inspired by musicians like Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and The Beatles when designing the collection, as well as the café racer subculture of Sixties Britain.
In another move meant to bolster its men’s business, Ugg will open its first men’s-only store at 600 Madison Avenue in New York on June 5, in an 800-square-foot space adjacent to an existing Ugg Australia store. The men’s shop will feature its own interior design scheme to provide a masculine shopping environment for men, who may best know the brand for its female-centric sheepskin boots.
Ugg actually was originally launched in 1978 in Southern California as a men’s footwear brand by an Australian surfer named Brian Smith. The sheepskin boots were popular among surfers in his native Australia and Smith aimed to popularize them in the U.S. Deckers Outdoor Corp. acquired Ugg in 1995 and by 2000 the much-copied boots were one of Oprah Winfrey’s “favorite things.”
Last year, wholesale sales of Ugg increased 38 percent to $915.2 million, up from $663.9 million in 2010. The company does not divulge men’s versus women’s sales figures.
There are 31 full-price Ugg stores worldwide, including 13 in North America, in addition to 14 outlet stores. Another seven full-price stores and 13 to 17 outlets are slated to open this year.
The men’s Collection product will be available in Ugg Australia flagships, on uggaustralia.com and at wholesale partners. The company is still finalizing wholesale orders. Key Ugg retailers for the core men’s and women’s lines include Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s, Journey’s, David Z. and Zappos.com.
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