Vogue Declares Uggs Are In, But Were They Ever Out?

by Gillian Fuller

Vogue magazine is often referred to as the Bible of the Fashion World, and for good reason: Since its inception, the magazine has been the definitive source for all things style-related — thanks, in no small part, to the highly revered (and feared) editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour.

But, it's safe to say that in the nearly 30 years Wintour has been at the helm of the magazine — she took the position in 1988 — fashion has changed.

Perhaps the most obvious change is in the way we consume fashion. Increasingly, we've come to rely on digital media for fashion news, and the traditional slow-moving print has fallen to the wayside.

As a result, the content produced by these once all-knowing style publications are often behind the times, or just plain… off.

Sadly, Vogue is no stranger to this struggle.

On several occasions in recent years, the magazine has found itself entangled in controversies surrounding the relatively outdated claims printed across its glossy pages. (Remember when they cluelessly crowned 2014 the “Era of the Big Booty”?)

The mag's most recent faux pas: A horrifying declaration that 2015 will see “The Return of the Ugg Boot.”

This is wrong — wrong, wrong, wrong — for so many reasons. First, the assumption that Uggs were ever considered “high fashion” is incorrect.

I have nothing against the shearling-lined slipper boots — they're comfy as hell — but never once were they praised as an elite, high-fashion accessory.

Uggs have nearly always been the boot of the masses, the comfy, yet decidedly style-less, one-and-done solution to cold toes and lazy days.

It's what's so great about them: Ubiquity.

The article heralding the return of the boot desperately attempts to confirm the author's off-colored claim by citing celebrities who've publicly worn the Australian boot, including “style star Ashley Williams” and 2004-era Carrie Bradshaw.

But does the support of a few trendsetters equate to sartorial star status?

If it did, we may all be donning bleached eyebrows and exposed lingerie as workwear — neither of which are entirely practical. To assume the blessing of a select few means widespread fashion success is ludicrous.

The final straw that breaks this author's “Return of the Ugg” argument is perhaps the most simple: For those who wear them, they've never gone out of style. Uggs are a perennial staple; the go-to whenever the temps drop.

To say they're “back” means that, for a point, they were “out”— which, of course, they never really were.

Of course, Vogue isn't the only glossy to overlook the trends of the masses.

Just months ago, Elle magazine triumphantly declared the return of the Timberland Boot — and was met by a lot of backlash by brand devotees who claimed the Timberland never went out of style.

Rather, the boot, over time, became a sort of status marker for much of hip-hop culture — while “fashion” people weren't wearing the boots, they were still a pretty strong trend in certain circles.

Elle, failing to consider this, ignored the cultural iconography of the boot and only recognized its “cool” revival once white, wealthy fashion bloggers began wearing them. Fail.

We can't entirely blame the magazines for these oversights: How hard it must be to work on trend stories three months ahead of time, when Internet-exclusive fashion rags can pinpoint a trend and publish a story on it that same day.

The magazine industry must come to terms with the new methods of information dissemination — and pay attention to those outside of the tight-knit circle of the “fashion world" if they want to stay relevant.

As for me, there's nothing like the smell and feel of a new magazine, and I'll never give that up — even if Vogue's next epiphany declares that Crocs are the new Céline.

Citations: The Return of the Ugg Boot (Vogue UK), Vogue Wants You To Reconsider the Ugg Boot (Refinery 29 )