People who know me well understand that retail is not therapy for me. (In contrast, it’s quite the opposite and I avoid it as much as I can.) Still, there comes an occasion in everyone’s life when a little retail therapy is just the ticket for – in my case – things have simply been worn to exhaustion.
So it was that I returned to the scene of the purchase, strolling into Victoria Market as I had twenty years earlier, to buy the same product – Ugg boots.
When I bought my last pair in 2000 they were ugg boots, the sheepskin slippers that had been made for decades because “the Lucky Country was carried on a sheep’s back” and nose-to-tail use of Australia’s many sheep was great for the economy. This slip-on footwear for winter warmth ranged from glorified moccasins (because they extended past the ankle) up to knee-high boots. Different retailers highlighted different features – such as a side-split with laces, different colours and varying patterned material for decorative purposes, depending on the design – in their pure-wool products, and they were hugely popular because they were warm. They were even at one stage being worn out to parties as high fashion – by country folk and city slickers alike – without raising an eyebrow (the ’80s was an eclectic decade). At various other times through the decades they’ve been the favoured footwear for “dag nights” and “come as you are” parties.
By the time I bought my most recent pair in 2020 they were Ugg boots, the brand-name fashion item that cool people the world over wear, the sewn-on labels proudly stating UGG so that the purchaser and any onlookers know that this person is in-the-know and totes fashionable … and likely paid $200* more than the worth of the product just for the label, especially if bought overseas. (Never mind the rumours about the factories in China where overworked and underpaid workers sew UGG and MADE IN AUSTRALIA labels onto any old sheepskin slippers they’re given by the rich factory owners who exploit them – which may explain the highly-varied quality of such slippers, with some having some sort of tacky-feeling nylon sheepskin rather than the real wool which is recognisably off a real sheep. Interestingly, the three stores I looked at the Market all claimed to be the dinky-di** coveted possession.)
Despite the over-inflated prices that overseas people buy to wear the Aussie icon I lucked out: my 2020 Uggies were only $20 more than my 2000 uggies – $90 as opposed to $70 – and that’s for knee-high ones that cover my legs between the end of my winter dressing gown and the floor (which is why I chose that length initially). Now the Vic Market is renowned as a place to get a bargain, but even so I reckon an inflation rate of $1 per year is very good! True, my new ones were discounted because they were the last pair the retailer had in that size – but that’s the size that fitted me so that’s what was most suitable … and I’m learning that khaki green actually goes with many colours, even though I’ve never been one to wear them in public.
I wonder if, in 2040 if I go back for another pair because I’ve worn my current pair to exhaustion, they’ll cost $110? That all depends on what I’m doing when I’m over 70 … and whether the Vic Market and Ugg are still around …
*All prices quoted in Australian dollars.
**Dinky-di: true blue, fairdinkum, the real deal, authentic.