Another post concerning wool! Since it’s winter, we thought it was time to check into a Michigan girl’s best friend: UGG. Known for their suede, sheep-lined boots that are a cozy warm fashion trend, the company has gotten quite a bit of bad press about harming animals. But, besides just boots, UGG also produces outerwear, slippers, leather goods, and more. A few years back, UGG started to get  lot of flack about their animal cruelty, which definetly plays into company ethics. The reality is, animal rights are involved in company ethics, because they are a part of God’s creation involved in our consumerism as well…but how does the front-runner in boot sales stack up in other areas of brand ethics?

First of all, the animal rights goes beyond the being of the animal, as it is a part of their supply chain. UGG does a great job with this, as they do not own their sheep, and purchase sheep hide from a very small pool of suppliers in Australia that strictly comply with their particular code of animal welfare. So, they know where all the hide is coming from, and ensure that it is created ethically. On top of that, they only purchase from suppliers who earn 90% of their profit from the food created from sheep, so that they aren’t involved with farmers mass-raising sheep for hide alone. This is a good sign about the intentionality of their supply chain.

So, what about the people in their supply chain?

Well, UGG is owned by a parent company called Deckers. Until 2014, the company wasn’t working with their individual brands with social responsibility in labor ethics. They contracted an NGO that helps corporations built corporate responsibility plans and transparent reports, showing an effort from the parent brand to extend to the child brands…aka UGG. They not only set up all the areas in their supply chain they’re trying to improve, but they also provide ways to measure the progress in each area. These areas include safety in factories, wages, hours, and trafficking among others.

After this 2014 push for transparency in their supply chain and labor ethics, they also began successfully using third-party auditors to create compliance and accountability.

So, I began this research on UGG Australia, but my findings reveal that UGG’s ethicality is largely due to the efforts of its parent company. But, as Deckers owns many other brands, it is encouraging to see UGG going above and beyond in their niche of labor ethics, namely animal and farmer ethics. So, as the parent company’s labor ethics are trickling down, UGG is taking the next step and making the rest of the process that their parent company can’t control fall in line.

Written by: Madeleine Williams