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Can Lil Yachty Make UGG Feel Cool Again?

The King of UGG

If there's one thing fashion habitually proves, it's that dead trends always re-animate. From Gucci's (debatably appropriative) homage to the pageantry of Dapper Dan to the quiet return of Louis Vuitton's monogram bags, the cyclical nature of the style always seems to bring trends full circle. The latest brand looking to refresh their image is none other than California-inspired, Australian footwear label, UGG. The brand's infamous shearling boots (which it is specifically looking to relaunch), conjure circa-2005 images of Ed Hardy, Juicy Couture, and the confounding clothing combination that was mini skirts and fur-lined winter boots.

Like JNCO - which also recently made a comeback - UGG is taking a play straight from the influencer handbook, tapping Jasmine Sanders, fashion designer Jeremy Scott and Lil Yachty to front the new campaign. Though the images were released in August, Yachty sat down with Dazed earlier this week to have a candid chat about what drew him to the project.

"I had never seen UGG do anything like it. They do different colors and stuff but the flames, that was dope! I love being a part of something new. I love being part of something fresh. Because when I came into music, I was new, I was fresh, so I'm always down to be a part of something that's changing something," explained Yachty

Beyonce in Ugg boots and a mini skirt
Beyonce in Ugg boots and a mini skirt

While the Atlanta rapper checked all the PR buzz boxes with his measured response, The Fashion Law rightly points out that UGG will need more then the praise of a teenage dynamo to turn things around. According to the website, despite generating social media interest as early as 2015 when it hosted Kendall and Kylie Jenner in its New York store, UGG stock has still consistently underperformed for the past three to five years. So much so, the brand's investment management firm is reportedly pushing its parent company, Deckers Outdoor Corp, to consider selling.

Kendall and Kylie shopping in NYC
Kendall and Kylie shopping in NYC

So what can a brand ambassador like Lil Yachty realistically do?

Potentially a lot, given UGG has a strong marketing strategy to support his involvement. And given the strong sense of cultural nostalgia, this is the perfect time to allow Yachty to play Igor to UGG's Dr. Frankenstein. Across the board there has been a return to '90s and mid-2000s silhouettes and styles in fashion.

Meanwhile, artists like Ty Dolla $ign, Chris Brown and Nick Grant (to name a few) have conspicuously remixed or sampled songs from the mid-2000s. Overall, one could argue there's been a paradigm shift where the past is once again being mined for contemporary inspiration. Add to that the undisputed fact that hip-hop culture is the prevailing culture of our time, and it intuitively makes sense that someone like Yachty (who has dubbed himself the King of Youth), might be capable of changing the perception of UGG.

https://soundcloud.com/dailyloudjams/jacquees-feat-quavo-ty-dolla-sign-bed-pt-2It also helps that Yachty is anything but a traditionalist. Since rising to fame, he's bucked accepted rap tropes at every turn. And rather than looking to the more typical streetwear collaborations as peers like A$AP Rocky and Future have done, he chose to partner with heritage label Nautica (which is also his favorite brand).

His cross-demographic appeal is likely the very reason why a company like UGG would have tapped him in the first place. A personality as universally liked as Yachty is able to straddle two worlds by lending cultural credibility while not alienating UGG's core consumer. Still, only time will tell if his Midas touch will be enough to help the brand turn things around.

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