It’s no big secret that we love Ugg boots. They’re functional, they’re familiar, they’re fun, what’s not to like? And in recent years they've been beefing up their status as a capital-F Fashion item by leveraging up-and-coming indie-cool labels like Eckhaus Latta and Telfar for buzzy partnerships and basking in the endorsements of stylish guys like Pharrell and Justin Bieber.
Keeping in line with that trajectory, today Ugg is unveiling its latest entry into the pantheon of covetable collabs: a two-piece capsule collection made with the multihyphenate tastemaker Tremaine Emory (aka Denim Tears), best known for his work with No Vacancy Inn and Kanye West for Yeezy. And the styles—a mid-shin Classic boot and the slipper-like Tasman, both decorated with beautiful, intricate stitching and beadwork—are not just great looking, they are an homage to his great-grandmother and her Black Seminole heritage. The limited-edition styles ($500 for the boot and $475 for the Tasman slipper) will be available today exclusively at denimtears.com starting today, and then at Ugg.com and select Ugg stores starting February 10th, along with a roster of stores that include Dover Street Market, Mr Porter.com, Matches, and Mohawk General Store.
“I’m using clothing as a Trojan horse,” Emory said in an interview last week. He’s built his design work on the idea of delivering a thoughtful message about Black history—his history—in the guise of a sick garment or accessory, as with the Levi’s and Converse partnerships before this one. “I think the strongest wave of Black cool geniuses is in clothing right now,” he continued. “And I’m taking the onus to use it as a bridge over the algorithm that feeds you the same thing over and over again.”
Emory first encountered his great-grandmother through a picture in his grandmother’s house. “There’s a picture there and she’s way lighter than me and I heard stories about how her hair was so long it went down to her butt,” he said. “And they told me she was a Seminole Indian, that’s all I knew but I wanted to find out more about it.” It wasn’t until a recent visit to New Orleans’s Backstreet Cultural Museum (currently closed due to damages from Hurricane Ida) that he saw a picture of a Black Seminole and set about researching his own history. “I thought, maybe this is where my great-grandmother is from, or maybe she passed through her on her way to Georgia,” he explained. Accordingly, his Uggs adopt the traditional visual language and handicraft methods of Southeastern Indigenous cultures.