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How ethical and sustainable is Ugg? 

As the trend cycle moves in ever tighter circles (with some fashion commentators speculating if trends even exist any more), Ugg has seen a recent surge in popularity, particularly its low-rise boots, which have been a favourite with Instagram It-Girls and social media influencers.

Ugg is famous for its distinctive-looking boots, made from animal leather and wool. The Good Shopping Guide has researched Ugg for its ethics and sustainability efforts and has given this shoe and boot brand an Ethical Rating based on over 15 ethical criteria. See how Ugg compares in our Shoes & Trainers: Ethical Comparison Ratings Table.

About Ugg

Deckers Outdoor Corporation owns the sheepskin boot brand, Ugg. In Santa Monica, California, Australian surfer Brian Smith started UGG, an American fashion brand best known for its sheepskin boots. Smith had the idea to start UGG when he noticed sheepskin boots weren’t available in the United States like they were in Australia after a late-night surf in Malibu when he was trying to warm his feet, using his pair of Australian sheepskin boots.

Since they first featured on Oprah Winfrey’s show in the second instalment of “Oprah’s Favorite Things” in 2003 (when Oprah bought over 350 shoes for her crew and audience) UGG-branded sheepskin boots have become a fashion mainstay.

Are Ugg boots sustainable?

The parent company, Deckers Outdoor publishes a CSR Report, which contains an extensive list of targets specifically for Ugg (and other brands that it owns) for various dates in the future. This date-specific target setting is a positive move, as it allows consumers, investors, the media, consumer groups and others, to hold brands to account for their Environmental Report.

Less positively, although Ugg sells a wide variety of products, only a small selection of boots are created sustainably; these are composed of tencel and sugarcane.

Additionally, Ugg has been found to be linked to drastic deforestation. Based on their connections to tanneries and other businesses involved in the production of leather and leather goods, a number of major fashion brands are at risk of contributing to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest, according to new research into the industry’s intricate global supply chains. An industry that supports Amazon deforestation has several connections to labels including Coach, LVMH, Prada, H&M, Zara, adidas, Nike, New Balance, Teva, UGG, and Fendi, according to a report that examined over 500,000 rows of customs data.

Is Ugg Vegan?

PETA has criticised Ugg for utilising shearling (sheep skin with the wool still attached). Before being killed for their skin, the sheep are castrated and have portions of their tails removed, typically without the use of anaesthetics. Even though Ugg has published a statement about its wool and sheepskin, the criticism still stands. We encourage shoe brands to find Cruelty-Free alternatives to using animal skins.

No Ugg boots are currently certified-Vegan or labelled as Vegan on Ugg’s website.

Ugg and Human Rights

Workers at Pulido Apparel Company Inc., a subsidiary in the Philippines of the American company Fownes Bros & Co. that produces leather gloves and fashion accessories, claim that Pulido Apparel has engaged in union busting and has barred union officers and members from its San Luis factory in Batangas. Global brands like The North Face, Timberland as well as UGG (a division of Deckers Brands), are all supplied by Pulido Apparel. Pulido Apparel closed its San Luis facility in December 2018, just before collective bargaining was scheduled to begin, citing financial concerns. But less than a month later, Pulido Apparel allegedly blacklisted union executives and members while rehiring staff at the same facility. According to the workers, the purpose of the strike was to undermine the union.

How could Ugg improve its Ethical Rating and apply for Ethical Accreditation?

Ugg should look at its Animal Welfare standards and address Human Rights criticisms if its Ethical Rating and ranking on our Shoes & Trainers: Ethical Comparison Ratings Table is to increase. When a brand applies for Ethical Accreditation, it opens itself to an even more rigorous investigation by The Good Shopping Guide‘s research team. This could also improve its Ethical Rating.

If your shoes and trainers brand values ethics and sustainability, why not check out The Good Shopping Guide‘s Ethical Accreditation? Increase customer and investor confidence and stand out from the greenwash.

Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Nuclear Power


  • Sustainable Materials


  • Fossil Fuels



  • Animal Welfare


  • Vegan Options



  • Armaments


  • Code of Conduct


  • Political Donations


  • Ethical Trading Schemes


  • Human Rights



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Other Criticisms


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