Take Care of It: My 15-Year-Old Uggs Look Brand New

The brand now offers a cleaning and repair service for well-loved boots.

take care of it
My UGGs taking a steamy bath.
(Image credit: Courtesy of Ugg)

Welcome to Take Care of It, where we'll share best practices for the upkeep and maintenance of luxury fashion purchases—because we know you want to keep them forever.

take care of it

(Image credit: Future)

Uggs, one of the most beloved and controversial shoes of our modern time (a basic for “basics”, scoffed at for their gnome-like aesthetic, and deeply associated with toxic '00s-era tabloid celebrity style), have been a wardrobe staple of mine for nearly 20 years. To me, they are an adorable, warm, and irreplaceable comfort essential—I will never quit Uggs!

One of my first pairs was purchased on sale from Kitson’s (an L.A.–based boutique turned celebrity fashion watering hole that has recently been disseminating alt-right information on their Instagram—yikes!). I chose the highly-coveted “sand” color as an alternative to my darker “chestnut” color for when I needed to lighten up a look. Despite heavy wear over the span of two decades, they’ve remained in relatively good shape. Still, they looked quite mushy and darker in spots than others—time for a bath!

take care of it

Me in 2012 taking a bike ride in my Uggs while visiting friends.

(Image credit: Julia Gall)

When, in November, UGG announced its "UGGrenew” in-house initiative to restore previously-loved Uggs, I knew this would be an excellent opportunity to revive my beloved pair. The brand has partnered with NuShoe, a premium shoe repair company to offer three tiers of service based on the condition of the boot: Renew ($80), a “complete, handcrafted restoration” that includes adding new bindings, outsole, and steam cleaning and deodorizing inside and out; Restore ($60), steam cleaning and a new outsole; Refresh ($40), just the steam clean. 

uggs take care of it

My sad-looking15-year-old Uggs before their treatment.

(Image credit: Julia Gall)

Currently this service is available for “Classic” style Ugg boots, but the company says it will be expanding to several colorways and styles as the program develops. Wearers are encouraged to schedule their appointments online at UGG.com and ship via a provided label.

The company gives each pair a tracking number and monitors each stage of its process to ensure there are no mix-ups of seemingly identical products. (My shoes are a legacy pair, after all, so I was nervous!) Because they were generally in good shape, NuShoe decided to treat them to the “Restore” package. They scrubbed them down in a steam cleaner using a specially formulated detergent that has a lot of lanolin in it—as does sheepskin—and added a new UGG-provided sole. They shipped them back to me in nearly pristine condition.

take care of it

A NuShoe expert adding a new sole to my boots. 

(Image credit: Courtesy of UGG)

Eric Neuner, president of NuShoe, alludes to the suffering of the shoe repair industry over the course of his 27 years in business, due to the “disposable nature of society.” But in the urgent call for more sustainable consumption, repair services like his are  regaining popularity, especially with younger consumers. He actually brought his teenage daughter into his initial pitch meeting with UGG, where she shared her generation’s understanding of their purchases’ impact and the Right to Repair, proving that this is the direction consumption is headed. “She really did a good job,” says Neuner. 

Before taking advantage of a repair service, Neuner suggests investing in the UGG care kit, and highly recommends using the protectant spray prior to wearing a new pair. This brought to memory my post-holiday ritual in high school, doing this for all gifted pairs my peers and I received. Neuner clarifies that protectant spray is not a waterproofing process, so Uggs should not be worn in rainy or snowy weather: “It’s not a classic boot to be wearing in those conditions.” 

The goal of the UGGrenew program is to eliminate landfill waste of Ugg boots and to be leader alongside other companies of robust repair or “take-back” circular programs, similar to ones Timberland and Rothy’s have implemented recently. Neuner shared with me some extraordinary before-and-afters of boots in far worse conditions than mine, and there is no reason anyone should be tossing their heavily-loved Uggs while this service exists. I also think this could be a game-changer for anyone who might buy a pair of used Uggs on the resale market. The early-aughts are back!

take care of it

My Uggs, now looking fifteen years younger. 

(Image credit: Courtesy of UGG)
Julia Gall

Julia Gall is the former Style Director at Marie Claire, covering all things fashion, as well as styling tips, wardrobe upkeep and sustainability. Check her out at @juliasgall.