> Firstly, I work for a very reputable retailer who stocks four different brands of genuine sheepskin boots (generic 'uggs') and one of our brands is the genuine 'UGG® Australia' brand (Deckers Outdoor Corp), so beleive me I know what I'm talking about - I have this conversation with customers on a daily basis!
Well where do I start? There are so many differing options and stories on what is a 'real' ugg boot and many have very valid and accurate points but don't cover the whole issue.
'UGG® Australia' is the market leader in sheepskin boot manufacturing (the ones all the celebs wear) and have trademark rights to the word 'UGG' in Europe and the US. 'UGG® Australia' is owned by US firm Deckers Outdoor Corp. Yes, they are American, NOT Australian! Most of UGG® Australia's products are actually manufactured in China and it is only really a few older styles such as the 'Ultras' which are made in Australia / New Zealand.
The 'UGG® Australia' story began in 1978, when Brian Smith, a young surfer from Australia, took a trip to the United States with a bag full of sheepskin boots. Deckers Outdoor Corporation then acquired 'UGG® Australia' in 1995, but it wasn't until 1998 that the critical repositioning of 'UGG® Australia' took place and the brand was positioned as a high-end luxury footwear brand where it is today.
However, in Australia the word 'ugg' is a generic term for a sheepskin boot, similarly as 'jeans' is a generic term for denim trousers. The term 'ugg' is NOT trademarked in Australia and legally sheepskin boots can still be called 'ugg' boots out there.
Ugg boots (in the generic sense) originated in Australia and came about around 200 years ago, along time before the 'UGG® Australia' brand was born i.e. 'UGG® Australia' are not the original manufacturers of ugg boots (in the generic sense of the word).
There is a brand in Australia which has 'UGG Made in Australia' on the heel label, and these are genuine sheepskin uggs (in the generic sense) but they are a different company. They are not breaking any laws and they are not trying to immitate the 'UGG® Australia' brand.
When searching for 'ugg boots' online it is also worth looking at the ending of website addresses - i.e. '.com' (USA), '.co.uk' (UK) and '.com.au' (Australia) will all give different results and different brands!
Because of this conflict between the generic and the trademarked term for 'ugg', the definition of what is a 'real ugg boot' depends on your view.
In the generic sense of the word 'ugg' a real ugg boot is considered to be a boot made of genuine sheepskin (usually Merino Sheepskin) as apposed to synthetic materials. However if you are referring to the brand 'UGG®' some people consider any other branded sheepskin boot i.e. 'Emu' to be fake, because they are not made by 'UGG® Australia'. This is not strictly true, but it is your choice and a matter of opinion.
The ones to look out for which I will refer to as 'Fake UGG® Australia' boots are the black sheep of the industry (excuse the pun). Fake 'UGG® Australia' boots are boots trying to mimic and imitate those of 'UGG® Australia' going to the lengths of copying labels and logos to immitate the 'UGG® Australia' brand. These are generally fake in every sense of the word, most likely not even being made from real sheepskin - i.e. they are synthetic!
Genuine twin-faced sheepskin boots (generic 'uggs') are designed to be worn without socks to get the full benefits of them. They do not make your feet sweat as they are a natural material - It's true! They will also stretch slightly to accomodate your foot, again because they are a natural material.
Synthetic immitation sheepskin boots will make your feet sweat and will not stretch like genuine sheepskin - a sure sign!
'UGG® Australia' footwear is manufactured in US sizes and therefore often feel slightly larger than footwear manufactured in UK sizes. In the UK, 'UGG® Australia' boots are converted in to UK sizes in accordance with the UK 'UGG® Australia' distributors instructions. If you buy genuine 'UGG® Australia' boots they will have the US size on the outside of the box and the UK size on the inside of the boot will show as a half size - i.e. if you order a UK 5 within the UK you should receive a US 7 which will have UK 5.5 on the label on the inside of the boot. That's why they feel slightly larger than boots manufactured in UK sizes. This is standard practise within the UK!
Although it is the 'UGG® Australia' brand which most of the celebs seem to be wearing, other brands are breaking through and proving themselves equally worthy. For example the style icon that is Sienna Miller chose to wear the lace-up 'Nomad' boots as a chic alternative to the Classic 'UGG® Australia' shapes, and the 'Nomad' boots are made by UK firm 'Love From Australia'.
So in summary, if you are after some genuine sheepskin boots but aren't a label snob then there are lots of other genuine sheepskin boot brands out there, but if you only want the 'UGG® Australia' brand, you know what to look for.
I hope this helps you determine what boots you would like.