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The bizarre allure of UGG's new overshoes

An 11.6 million views phenomenon on TikTok

The bizarre allure of UGG's new overshoes An 11.6 million views phenomenon on TikTok

Toward the end of September, the Instagram account @iamtolgah shared a photo of a pair of Salomon S/Lab XT-6s covered in a sort of beige rubber overshoe that transformed the silhouette of the classic sneaker into a rounded, cartoonish shape. After an off-the-charts number of likes and comments, the photo landed on @hidden.ny achieving equal if not greater success (until yesterday, the account re-shared a new shot of the overshoes) and then went viral on TikTok. The overshoe in question is called the UGG Guard and would appear to have been designed specifically for the classic UGG boots whose suede material poorly withstands water from rain and puddles in winter. Apparently, however, the overshoe also goes well with classic sneakers, enriching their silhouette with an extremely clean shape and an oversized sole that seems to speak to many of the recent footwear trends that have emerged online. Indeed, it is no coincidence that, on TikTok, the hashtag #uggguard has been viewed 11.6 million times with a huge series of videos in which users from halfway around the world experiment with combining the overshoe with different sneakers.

@cainbeaudoin Salomon xt6 uggguard #uggguard #sneakerreview #wintersneakers22 #sneakerheads #salomonxt6 original sound - Cain Beaudoin

While UGG Guards seem to divide the public, between those who love them and those who compare them to the slip-on shoes of fast food employees, the success demonstrated by their viral spread seems indeed undeniable. It is a success that speaks to a growing passion among footwear lovers for customizing silhouettes, but it also seems to be the final and most functional outcome of that collective craze for rubber shoes and overshoes that began years ago with products such as Bottega Veneta's Puddle Boot, Riccardo Tisci's Arthur Sneaker for Burberry and Nike x Undercover's React Boot that transformed, each in its own way, the classic British Wellington Boot into a design object, then evolved mainly through Balenciaga with its increasingly monumental rubber boots and now sublimated into these UGG Guards that allow any shoe to be transformed into a Wellington Boot. Not to mention how, in effect, these overshoes increase the performance and longevity of the sneakers themselves - subjected to far less environmental stress in rainy seasons like fall and winter. A product whose design, so to speak, combines the useful with the delightful. 

Last November, it was Balenciaga's Croc Boot that had us talking about the trend of "designer galoshes" - a trend that has actually not really died out as much as more differentiated evolving into a series of synthetic mules seen this summer, or a series of rubber-bottomed boots inspired by snow models such as the Moon Boot, Prada's new Monolith models with rubber inserts, and evolutions of the classic duck boot (the one with the grooved rubber upper) produced for example by L. L. Bean, Sucicoke, J.W. Anderson or Fear of God to name a few. Notably, a pioneer of this aesthetic had been, now years ago, 1017 Alyx 9SM with its "regular" derbies that could also be worn together with an extra sole produced by Vibram. The further step taken with the UGG Guard, however, is to take the aesthetic signifier of these popular models, namely the oversized rubber mudguard, and turn it into a modular element that can be applied to any type of sneaker or shoe - a solution that brings into play the creativity of the end customers but more importantly promises to be able to "renovate" all the sneakers one already owns with a product, viral to boot, that costs less than any other sneaker.