It’s hard to grow up in California and not develop a love for the great outdoors. No matter what part of the Golden State you live in, you’re generally only two hours away from a completely different climate experience, whether it’s the sandy shores of Huntington Beach, the snowy slopes of Big Bear, or the sunny countryside in Ojai. And fashion designer Phillip Lim, who’s from a town in Orange County called Westminster, can remember wearing UGG boots in all three places.
“When I was a kid, I thought they were just chic,” Lim said on a recent afternoon in Montauk, where he invited Men’s Journal to put the new boots to the test. (They held up to sand, rain, grass, sea water, mud, and the side of one particularly patient horse over the course of two days of testing.) “I grew up around these kind of leader-of-the-pack surfers. They’re the ones who would put them on, hang out, have a beer. And to me it’s kind of heroic, that look.”
Those memories inspired him to reach out to the Californian company and ask collaborate on a line of boots for fall. (They agreed, and with good reason: Lim is an award-winning designer who consistently turns out fashion forward, yet wearable collections.) The results, which marry Lim’s smart streetwear aesthetic with warmth and utility of UGG’s products, are available on his website this week.
The boots, some ankle height, some a bit higher, range in price from $250 to $300. They’re crafted from the same water-resistant sued and leather you’ll find on regular UGG boots, but they have design elements that set them apart. A few pairs feature a front-facing zipper that makes them easy to put on; two pairs have blaze orange vamps that we can imagine big game hunters would enjoy.
And while virtually everything Lim creates references his past, these boots are just as much a part of his present. The designer bought a house on the North Fork of Long Island about a year ago specifically to get away from the rigor of his life in New York City. Disconnecting and getting outside, he said, “is not a luxury anymore. It’s a must.”
“When I was younger, I’d be like, work, work, work, work, work, work, you know? Deadline, deadline, deadline,” he continued. “And now at this age, and this part of my life, I make it a priority.” Every weekend, he makes a point of running and swimming in the outdoors. He dreams of one day making a trip to Hawaii to learn how to surf.
“Being outdoors and in nature, it’s my aha moment. It gives me all my answers. It makes me look like a genius,” he said, laughing. And having worn them, we can say the boots do, too.