MILAN — Marking World Values Day on Thursday, Ugg is launching Feel Good, a new web site reflecting the brand’s commitment to long-term sustainability, to people and the planet, and focused on three key pillars — environment, community and innovation.
Feelgoodfuture.ugg.com is meant to foster transparency and accountability, so that consumers will be able to follow the brand’s activities and understand their impact.
Ugg was founded in 1978 and has diversified from its classic sheepskin boot to apparel, accessories and homewares to the tune of $1 billion in annual sales. The brand’s most used textile fiber is repurposed wool, which is harvested from sheepskin and woven using UGGpure proprietary technology. The company said this consumes less water, less energy, and emits less CO2 when compared to virgin wool.
Ugg has started working with expert partners to monitor its environmental impact and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, and plans to set science-based targets by 2021.
In 2016, Ugg, as a division of Deckers Brands, joined the United Nations Global Compact.
The brand underscores the importance of diversity, gender equality, female empowerment and inclusion by supporting HERproject, enabling workplace-based interventions on health, financial inclusion and gender equality. Since 2016, Ugg has trained more than 33,000 women through the HERproject, and by 2027 plans to reach 100,000 women globally.
Ugg also supports the LGBTQ community with an all-gender capsule sold year-round. To complement this capsule, in 2020 Ugg donated $125,000 to nonprofit association GLAAD.
Another Ugg goal is to increase its use of recycled, repurposed, regenerated (plant-based), renewable (bio-based) and certified fibers by 35 percent by 2027.
Here, Andrea O’Donnell, president of Ugg and Koolaburra by Ugg of Deckers Brands, maps out the company’s initiatives with WWD:
WWD: What is new in terms of innovation and what are your key new steps?
Andrea O’Donnell: We have been working on innovation for a while, particularly with our signature UGGplush and UGGpure wool blend materials to reduce waste and minimize our environmental impact.
Additionally, we have some exciting new collections that will be launching soon, which include new innovative solutions such as our SugarSole, an outsole that will be introduced in our Fluff Sugar capsule collection for spring 2021. The new collection features renewable sugarcane, which is swift-growing, rainwater-dependent and does not require irrigation. The capsule is also made with Tencel lyocell and plant-based dyes to reduce chemical impact. This is just one example of an innovation we are debuting that we’ll continue to expand upon each season.
Our partners are also key in our sustainability journey. We’ve started an exciting collaboration with The Savory Institute for a regenerative farming project as part of the nonprofit’s Land to Market program. The program works with farmers to protect and restore the land in which we live, having a positive impact on both people and planet. We are also working with industry experts to support with carbon accounting and reduction measures in line with the Paris Agreement goals — through Science Based Targets [organization] — using science to lead us. We aren’t aiming for just a “moment” with this launch, we want to instigate long-term, effective solutions that will ultimately and indefinitely reduce our impact on the planet.
WWD: What has motivated the brand to invest in sustainability?
A.O.: We all have a part to play in protecting the planet for future generations and it is key that we help communicate and drive this message. We needed to understand where we are and honestly assess what we can do at a brand level to minimize our environmental impact. We know that this isn’t something we can do alone, so we’ve brought in expert partners to support us in driving positive change. We are aware change won’t happen overnight, but we want to be transparent with our community about where we are and where we are going.
WWD: How will you communicate the steps taken?
A.O.: Today we take a big step in opening this dialogue by launching Feel Good, a separate site that celebrates our new brand platform. With this platform we want to give context around our long-term sustainability goals, projects and partnerships, so everything from regenerative farming, material innovations to our partnership with HERproject will be covered on the site. You can browse and experience the initiatives, innovation and science behind each one of the three pillars of our strategy — environment, community and innovation.
Environment is focused on the planet and minimizing the impact of our business. Community is putting people first; whether that be our employees, our customers, our community and beyond. And finally, innovation, to continue to work to create better products for our community and our planet. Demonstrating how Ugg is addressing environmental and social issues.
WWD: What kind of relationship do you have with your consumers?
A.O.: Ugg is a brand that is known for how it makes people feel and because of that we have a close and personal relationship with our consumers. We know sustainability and transparency is important to them, so making the steps with this platform and sharing what current and future plans around our efforts is the right thing to do.
WWD: Did your efforts to be more sustainable stem from those consumers?
A.O.: Our consumers are what drives us, our purpose and having that transparency with them is key. Being tenacious, passionate and honest is how we are going to create change. It’s our belief that fashion can be real, democratic, and aspirational all at the same time. We also want to create products that are not only beautiful, but are innovative, made to last and have a positive impact so that people can feel good wearing Ugg.