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Easter holidays

Uggs History

The Australian ugg boot traces its origins back to at least early last century when World War I pilots were pictured wearing their fleece-lined "Fug Boots" (Presumably flying ugg boots!). Blue Mountain Uggs go back to 1933 with shearers finding them cosy and warm and in the late 1950's, Mortel's Sheepskin Factory began producing a line of "apache ugh boots". Then in the late 1960's Australian surfers started making boots out of sheepskin to keep their feet warm when they were out of the water. To make these boots they would sew sheepskin hides together with a soft sole attached to the bottom. Yes - they didn't even have hard soles. In fact, they were really only a glorified sock. These original boots were not pretty to look at, in fact they were rather ugly, which it is believed where the term Ug originates from... Ugly boots - Ugg boots. However we rather believe that Ug was derived from the word hug because they are hugs for your feet!

Ug is a generic term, which has been used in Australia for many years to describe this style of sheepskin boot. It is a product description, not a brand name. Ask any Australian what an ugg boot is and they'll say sheepskin boot. It's as 'ocker' (slang for 'Australian') as meat pies and kangaroos.

So please don't confuse ourJumbo Ugg Boots label with other Ugg or Ug labels, such as some American brand UGG® Australia which is not even made in Australia but in China. All our boots are handmade in Australia from 100% finest Merino Sheepskin, which is renowned for its comfort and insulating properties, yet because it's a natural material it will also keep your feet cool during the summer time.

Over time, many manufacturers and retailers of sheepskin boots have cropped up. One Australian fellow - Brian Smith - took some sheepskin ugg boots from Australia to the US and began selling them. Variations of his story can be found all over the web but there were many others who also sold ugg boots throughout the world even before him. Eventually, in the mid-1990's, a big US footwear company Deckers Outdoor Corporation, bought into the ugg boot scene. Sadly, Deckers have laid claim to the term "ugg" despite its generic-ness and public domain use (and its entry into many aussie slang dictionaries) and despite other Australian manufacturers also selling them into the US as an 'ugg boot' from as far back as their origins can be traced. We have been informed by a representative of Ugg Australia (12 Dec 2003) that no footwear is made in Australia anymore. A portion is made in New Zealand with the rest being made in China. This is despite much of the product being labelled 'Original UGG Australia'. Ironically, no 'bricks and mortar' retailer in Australia sells the US Ugg Australia brand. Why? Who really knows... maybe because they are simply too expensive when compared to the local - more genuine - product.

The ugg boot story is now a classic David and Goliath battle. The smaller, original, Australian long-term manufacturers are being pushed around (and literally just that - receiving 'cease and desist letters' and 'legal threats') by Ugg Holdings (yes - the American company) who on the one hand claim they sell an original Australian ugg boot yet the majority, if not all (their representative now (18 Dec 2003) can't decide whether some are still made here in Australia or not) are made outside of Australia (in fact - many in China).

For anyone in search of a pair of real Australian sheepskin footwear, I implore you to support the original manufacturers, the little guys, the ones behind the legend and buy your genuine (yes the real, real thing) Australian sheepskin footwear made by a truly Australian firm such as Jumbo Ugg Boots. And if Jumbo Ugg don't have them, try Uggs-N-Rugs or find another dinky di Australian manufacturer and/or retailer.

Don't be fooled by fancy advertising... make sure you find out where and by whom the product is really being made.

Want to give support to the Aussies fighting the US company trade-marking the generic term "ugg" (and its various spellings)? Visit the Save Our Aussie Icon site.

Wool has been an essential part of Australia's growth as a nation. Since the arrival of sheep with the First Fleet in 1788, the wool industry has dominated our economy, our agricultural practices, our collective imagination and our reputation as a quality wool-growing nation throughout the world.

Two hundred years later, in 1988, The National Wool Museum was established as Australia's only comprehensive museum of wool. The Museum is housed in an historic 1872 bluestone wool store near the port of Geelong, Victoria.

Travelling exhibitions, education programs, special exhibits, tours and workshops - there's always something new happening at the National Wool Museum.

Australian Wool Production

Australia is the world's largest producer of wool.

Did you know...

  • In 2003/2004 there were 106 million sheep shorn in Australia producing 480 million kg of greasy wool.
  • It is expected that the amount of wool produced in 2004/2005 will rise by 4% to 500 million kg of greasy wool from 112 million sheep shorn.
  • The Australian flock was composed of 84.6% Merino, 11.3% crossbred, 4.1% other breeds at 30 June 2003.
  • The wheat-sheep zone of Australia contains around 55% of the Australian sheep flock, the high rainfall zone contains around 33% and the pastoral zone contains around 12%.
  • At 30 June 2003, 73% of the total wool produced in Australia is produced by less than 40% of wool producing farms.

Australian Wool Fibre

Did you know...

  • There has been a significant change in the fibre diameter (micron) profile of the Australian clip. In1993/1994, only 8.5% of the wool clip was 19 micron or finer. Ten years later, 30% of the clip is 19 micron or finer.
  • Wool fibres are mostly made of protein with a small amount of fat, calcium and sodium.
  • As it grows from the sheep's skin, wool naturally groups into staples which each contain many thousands of fibres.
  • After shearing, wool is classed into five main categories: fleece, pieces, bellies, crutchings and locks.
  • The most important characteristics of wool in determining its greasy value are fibre diameter, staple strength, staple length, vegetable matter, colour and yield.

Australian Wool Fibre

Did you know...

  • Australia is the world's largest producer of wool, producing over a quarter of the world's greasy wool in 2003/2004.
  • While Australia produces more wool than any other country, China has the largest sheep population. Australia has the second largest sheep population.
  • Australia exports wool to 50 countries. China is the biggest purchaser of Australian wool, with exports to China valued at $1.1 billion in 2003/2004.
  • In 2003/2004, wool accounted for 2.5% of Australia's total exports, 3.4% of Australia's primary industry (agricultural/mining) exports, and 9.4% of Australia's agricultural exports, ranking third behind beef and wheat.
  • Wool exports were valued at $2.8 billion in 2003/2004.

Wool Textiles

Did you know...

  • Australian wool accounted for 48% of the total used in global wool apparel in 2003/2004.
  • In 2003, wool accounted for 2.4% of total world fibre use and about 3.5% of world apparel fibre use (with Australian wool approximately 2.3% of world apparel fibre use).
  • Casual leisurewear is the largest clothing sector accounting for 70% of the total apparel market.
  • Young adults, who dominate global discretionary apparel expenditure, are influenced more by price and performance rather than the textile fibre used.
  • Worsted fabrics are made with longer fibres that produce a surface that's smooth to touch. Woollens are made with shorter fibres that stand up from the surface and give the fabric a hairy touch.
  • Wool insulates against heat and cold, is healthy, water repellent, fire resistant, naturally elastic, wears longer, is versatile, resists static, insulates against noise, resists dirt, is easy to sew, is comfortable and dyes beautifully.

Source :   All the above information is courtesy of www.wool.com.au (Australian Wool Innovation Limited)

The Processing of Woolskins to Make Ugg Boots

Courtesy of the CSIRO web site:

Woolskins are usually preserved with salt prior to being processed by tanneries. At the tannery the skins are processed in large vessels called paddles which vary in capacity from 3000 to 15000 litres. In contrast to hide processing, in woolskin processing mechanical action is kept to a minimum in order to minimise felting of the wool. Rotating blades on the paddles move the skins slowly and gently, and processing is performed at much higher float ratios (typically 20-35 litres of water per skin) than are used in hide processing.

Typically it takes about 10 working days for the skins to be tanned and finished ready to be cut into panels for ugg boots.

1. Tanning/ Processing

Soaking (16 hours)

The skins are rinsed in cold water to remove excess salt and dirt from the wool and pelt. Rehydration (soaking) of the pelt takes place in a fresh cold water float overnight.

Fleshing

The skins are fleshed using a fleshing machine which removes excess fat and muscle tissue from the back of the skins. This allows for more rapid and complete penetration of chemicals in the later stages of processing, particularly during pickling and tanning.

Scouring (30-45 minutes)

Surfactants are used at 38oC to remove dirt and grease (lanolin) from the wool.

Pickling (16 hours)

Prior to tanning, the skins are pickled in a solution containing acid and salt. The salt is added to prevent swelling of the skins by the acid. The internal pH of the skins is lowered to approximately 2.8-3.0, thereby preparing the skins for penetration by the tanning agent.

Tanning (16 hours)

Tanning is generally achieved by using chromium salts which form cross-links with the collagen, stabilising the skin structure and preventing putrefaction. The tanning step is conducted at about 25oC and pH 2.5-3.0 to allow for penetration of the chrome. Once penetrated, the chrome is fixed to the collagen by raising the pH to about 3.6 using sodium bicarbonate, and heating to about 35-40oC. This step raises the shrinkage temperature of the skin from about 60oC to around 100oC.

Wool Dyeing / Fatliquoring (3-4 hours)

After tanning, the wool may be dyed a variety of colours. Wool dyeing is performed at about pH 4.5-6 and at 60-65oC, "Pelt reserve agents" being added to prevent the wool dye staining the pelt. After the dye is exhausted, the pH is lowered to about 4.0 to fix the dyes to the wool, and fatliquor is added to the bath. Fatliquors are emulsified oils which are used in leather manufacture to lubricate the collagen fibres, allowing them to move freely when the skin is dried, thereby imparting softness to the skin.

Drying (4-24 hours)

Once tanned and wool dyed, the skins are then dried in heated forced-air dryers by "toggling" the skins to a frame. Drying is conducted at temperatures of 50-80oC.

Drycleaning (4-24 hours)

The dried skins are "drycleaned" in either white spirit (a high-boiling petroleum fraction) or perchloroethylene. The drycleaning removes the natural fat and grease present within the skins.

Pelt Dyeing / Syntanning

Once the pelt grease is removed, the skins are returned to the paddle for pelt dyeing. This step is performed at low temperature (less than 30oC) in order to minimise staining of the wool by the pelt dye. After pelt dyeing, the skins are "syntanned" using synthetic tanning agents in order to give the pelts added fullness and firmness. The skins are then redried.

2. Finishing

Once all the tanning and processing steps have been completed, the skins are ready for final finishing prior to being used in ugg boot manufacture.

Staking

After "conditioning" the skins to approximately 20% moisture content, the skins are staked in a staking machine. This softens and stretches the skin pelt, and puts a "nap" on the pelt surface.

Combing / Ironing / Clipping

The wool is combed in a combing machine to remove tangles and any burrs or grass seeds present in the wool. An iron (a hot, 150oC revolving cylinder) straightens the wool, removing the natural wool crimp.Finally, a cylinder clipping machine is used to clip the wool pile to the desired length, usually about 12-15 mm.

3. Manufacturing

Panels are cut from the skins using a "clicking press". Once cut, the panels are sewn together using industrial sewing machines, then the sole is glued to the boot. Once this is done, the boots are ready for sale!

These are the major stages in Wool Production:

  1. Shearing
  2. Washing
  3. Blending
  4. Carding
  5. Spinning
  6. Weaving
  7. Fulling & finishing
  8. Chemical Finishes

Grease wool is processed into its finished products by either the worsted or woollen system.

Worsted system

In the worst system, the wool is combed after drying. This is method is only used on longer wools, and as a result the fibres are laid parallel to one another. Worsted materials normally have a smooth finish, and are extremely durable. Some examples of worsted products include suits, dresses, and gabardines.

Woollen System

Wools of short length are often used in the woollen system. In this system the wool is not combed, but rather carded. As a result, the materials are thicker, and garments look bulky in appearance. Some examples of the woollen products include, sweaters, and carpets.

The End Product

The many uses of wool

After the wool has been processed it is then turned into a number of fine products. Wool is a versatile fibre that is fire resistant, elastic , durable, and serves as a source of insulation. Wool can absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture which allows it to have insulating properties.

Wool is used in such products as coats and blankets, ugg boots and even toys.

With so many uses, wool is considered the Michael Jordan of fibres. Fibres are continually compared to wool because of its many strengths, such as the fact that it is fire resistant as well as stronger than steel.

Source :  The above information has been taken from the following website : http://ag.ansc.purdue.edu/sheep/ansc442/Semprojs/wool/index.htm


Australian sheepskin Ugg boots