Whether or not you love Ugg’s soft-soled sheepskin wares, it’s impossible to deny their popularity. Once thought of purely as the domain of paparazzi-seeking celebrities and tweens, the brand has proved itself to have serious staying power, which was in no small part due to its strategic celebrity alignments (Tom Brady, anyone?). At a splashy event at Oxfordshire’s Soho Farmhouse earlier this week, the brand announced the latest addition to its roster: superstar Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who the label is calling its very first global women’s ambassador.
These days, Huntington-Whiteley is the one setting trends. With 5 million Instagram followers and countless others glued to her Snapchat, her every outfit is subject to online discussion. To outsiders, her expertly styled looks may seem glamorous, but she’s just as happy sporting casual chic. “I think as women we have so many different styles,” says Huntington-Whiteley. “There’s obviously my red carpet style, which is hopefully glamorous, as that’s what you strive to be when you have a special event, but really my days off are spent very much in jeans and a T-shirt and cashmere knits.” Born and raised in Devon, England, Huntington-Whiteley now spends the majority of her days in Malibu, California, with her fiancé, action star Jason Statham. The contrast between the classicism of where she grew up and L.A.’s relaxed sensibility has had a distinct impact on her style. “L.A. is inherently casual, so I think you can be a bit more playful [with clothes], a bit more fun and very laid-back,” says Huntington-Whiteley. “When I visit New York or London, I enjoy putting on a great coat and bundling up for the cooler weather by wearing smart and tailored pieces.”
That jet-setting juxtaposition between casual and polished plays into the latest campaign. Shot amid the pastoral beauty of the Cotswolds, the ads represent an appealing new direction—one Huntington-Whiteley is excited for the world to see. “We see a lot of fashion images that are highly polished and almost unobtainable because they’re so aspirational,” she says. “And that’s brilliant, and fashion is about setting those dreams, but I think what is fun about this collaboration with Ugg is that it really will be playful, it really will be fun. We really will be giving people an insight and be taking them behind the scenes in a way that is more playful and authentic.” As anyone following Huntington-Whiteley’s feeds this week can attest, she’s provided a bird’s-eye view on the Ugg creative process, snapping behind the scenes of the gala launch event, and a few cheeky moments getting hair and makeup prep pre-party. While living life online has become de rigueur for the Internet generation—supermodels and private citizens alike—for Huntington-Whiteley, the shift took a period of adjustment. “It’s taken me a minute to warm up. I’m 28, so I wouldn’t consider myself the true social media era, because I was about 23 when it started to really hit off,” she says. “Before, it was so cool to be private, and it was so cool to be mysterious and to be aloof, and now it’s the total opposite and I’m really embracing that.” Citing Snapchat as a means of presenting an authentic albeit slightly goofy version of herself to the world and Instagram as an outlet for more polished imagery, Huntington-Whiteley appears to have her social skills down pat.
Still, how does a girl—even if she’s a supermodel—take one of the most ubiquitous pairs of shoes ever and make them feel modern? For Huntington-Whiteley, it all boils down to letting your style speak for itself. “There are no rules really. I mean, I feel that you can wear the same outfit that you would wear with a different pair of shoes but with Uggs. I think it works really well. So I’ll be wearing mine with my skinny jeans and T-shirts, and a blazer or a cool bomber jacket.” As the world awaits the inevitable LAX Arrivals photos of Huntington-Whiteley clad in a bomber (Vetements, perhaps?) and a pair of Ugg Classic IIs, the star still has a few surprises in store—including the possibility of a new addition to the line. “I love moccasins and I love black and I love fringe, so [my perfect pair] would marry all those things,” says Huntington-Whiteley. “I also love heels, so I love when you can have the hidden heel inside of something—but I’m not going to give away too many secrets!”
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