published Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

These boots are made for stylin': UGGs, Fryes top sellers for both women and men

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    The evolution of UGG boots start with the classic short chestnut style, $155, to the classic short cheetah, $225, and the Darcie tall tan boots, $295. Fashions courtesy of Dillard’s.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
    enlarge photo

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    Lorean Mays wears the season’s latest style in Frye boots, “Lindsay Plant,” in burnt red, $368. She paired the boots with a Jessica Simpson coat, $149, and a David & Young headband, $20. Fashions courtesy of Dillard’s.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
    enlarge photo

So you thought UGG boots were a passing thing, huh?

Wrong.

Gaye Maxwell, manager of the shoe department at Dillard's, says UGG still is its No. 1-selling boot, followed closely by Frye boots. Both brands are "flying out of the store," Maxwell says.

The popularity of the boots, particularly UGG, surprises Dillard's manager Bill Graves.

"I thought they'd last a few seasons, but it gets bigger every year," he says. "In fact, the popularity of boots across the board is amazing. I see them on everybody -- even babies."

The UGG sheepskin boot has been around since the late 1970s and, because of its warmth, became popular among surfers on the West Coast. By the late 1990s, celebrities began wearing UGGs and, after being featured by Oprah on "Oprah's Favorite Things" show in 2000, they skyrocketed to fame.

The popularity of boots doesn't surprise Victoria Underwood of Dayton, Tenn. She owns 15 pairs and is always on the hunt for more.

Underwood, 32, owner of the Insyde Outsyde Shop in Red Bank, says she wears boots most every day, except in summer. She's partial to flat-heel boots because of the comfort.

"I wear them with jeans, dresses and skirts," Underwood says. "My favorite pair is an $80 pair of Jessica Simpson boots that have lasted about four years, but I'll probably replace them with some from Frye, though my husband isn't a fan of the price tag. I also love my red Hunter Wellies from Neiman Marcus because they are really stylish and keep my feet dry."

Frye boots range in cost from around $300 to $370, Maxwell says. UGG boots are less costly, between $150 and $300.

"You get what you pay for because these boots last for years," Underwood says, noting that she has a pair of Frye boots that she's been wearing for nearly 20 years. "They have molded to the shape of my feet and are the most comfortable shoes I have."

Maxwell says that, like the UGG brand, Frye boot sales at Dillard's have been on the increase in the last couple years.

"Everyone knows the name 'Frye,' and they know it's a well-made boot from a well-known company," she says. "The company still offers the classic cowboy style to updated looks that include a casual style, a rock'n'roll style, a motorcycle style and more. It's the boot you will wear forever. Dress it up. Dress it down. Fryes are on fire."

Frye has been around for 150 years, according to thefryecompany.com. Founder John A. Frye started the company on March 10, 1863, in a small shop in Marlboro, Mass.

Maxwell credits the increasing popularity of Frye and UGG boots to the updated styles.

"Frye is no longer just the cowboy boot," she says. "It has always been a big seller and still is, but the styles have been revamped and look knew. There are so many different styles now and they're all beautiful. They're also made from quality leather. We get very few returns in Fryes and UGGs."

Underwood says she wears boots with most everything in her wardrobe ranging from leggings to feminine dresses.

"I get ideas from Pinterest because I can search something like 'mint green leggings' and find what what boots look good with it," she says. "I think the only thing I don't wear boots with are shorts and that's only because I don't think that suits me."

Caroline Johnson, 53, is excited about the tall, black dress boots that she's getting from Santa this year.

She specifically asked him for the boots that also have a narrow shaft -- to accommodate her slim calves -- with a medium-sized heel. The boots are perfect for work and church, she says.

Out of the six pairs of boots she owns, Johnson says she wears her brown pair the most, but expects her new black ones to look better with most her clothes.

"I really like the look of tall slim boots with tights and a slim short skirt, but I wear them with long skirts and dresses as well," Johnson says. "For some reason, I tend to avoid wearing boots with slacks -- the one exception being jeans. I think everything works with jeans."

Still, Johnson likes all styles of boots.

"I've got some great cowboy boots, hiking boots, and my favorite are my Land's End fleece-lined rain boots. I just adore them," she says. "They are my footwear of choice this time of year whenever I walk my dog, and we go on long hikes at Greenway Farm and along the South Chickamauga Greenway."

Johnson says she wears mostly boots in cooler weather and sandals when it gets warm.

Maxwell says it's not just the gals wearing boots. Men like them, too, even the UGG boot. Men, locally, tend to favor UGG sheepskin driving moccasins, she says, but Fryes also are extremely popular with men.

"Men like quality and comfort, too."

Contact Karen Nazor Hill at khill@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6396.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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