Australian socks

It’s the middle of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. I was in Melbourne, Australia recently where I bought two pairs of long socks to keep warm.

I bought my socks at the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne’s central business district. Also called the Queen Vic Market, it is located at the corner of Victoria and Elizabeth Street. The Queen Vic Market is named after Queen Victoria who ruled from 1837 – 1901. The Queen Vic Market was officially opened on 20 March 1878. The market’s current location is on the site of a cemetery, called the Old Melbourne Cemetery. The cemetery opened in 1837, but later closed in 1854 when it was full. Ten thousand people were buried in this cemetery. In 1917, the market extended into the cemetery site. Over 900 bodies were exhumed and re-interred in other cemeteries, but thousands of bodies are still buried beneath the sheds and current car park of Queen Vic Market.

Façade of the historic Queen Victoria market in Melbourne, Australia (photo by Emily Gan).

Façade of the historic Queen Victoria market in Melbourne, Australia (photo by Emily Gan).

The Queen Victoria Market is the largest open air market in the Southern Hemisphere. It covers an area of around 17 acres, or over 2 city blocks. It is open 5 days a week (closed on Mondays and Wednesdays). Allow yourself a few hours, or even a whole day, if you want to see everything.

The market sells almost everything you can think of – fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, specialty and deli foods. There are also different precincts selling non-food items, like handmade arts and crafts, clothes, jewellery, shoes and socks and also souvenirs. (though I found that a lot of souvenirs that say ‘Australia’ on them aren’t actually made in Australia). If you want to be sure something is made in Australia, look for a green triangular-shaped sticker with a yellow kangaroo on it.

Australian made argyle socks. Note the green triangular sticker with the yellow kangaroo on it, the made-in-Australia sticker (Photo by Chang Shih Yen).

Australian made over-the-knee argyle socks. Note the green triangular sticker with the yellow kangaroo on it, the made-in-Australia sticker (Photo by Chang Shih Yen).

I bought two pairs of over-the-knee white socks, one with music notes on them, and a pair of argyle socks. Argyle refers to a pattern shaped, like diamonds. Argyle originated in Scotland when it appeared on socks of the Scottish Campbell clan, who were native to County Argyll in Western Scotland. For a preppy look, wear anything argyle, like argyle socks or an argyle vest.

Over-the-knee Australian socks. Music to my feet (Photo by Chang Shih Yen)

Over-the-knee Australian socks. Music to my feet (Photo by Chang Shih Yen)


Ugg Boots

So far I have mainly written about shoes that I love, but I recently realized that I also have a lot to write about shoes that I don’t like. Some time ago, someone gave me a pair of ugg boots as a gift. Ugg boots are unisex sheepskin boots that originated in Australia or New Zealand. There’s debate over which country they came from, but it’s definitely somewhere in Australasia anyway.

Ugg boots were very trendy with celebrities earlier this millennium with the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Moss and Jennifer Aniston wearing them. Oprah Winfrey also raved about them, including ugg boots in her ‘favourite things’ show.

My ugg boots are made in New Zealand. They are very warm, made of sheepskin and lined with fleece inside the boot and around the ankles. They are great for keeping my feet warm, especially as it is now the middle of winter (it is winter in the Southern Hemisphere). However, I will only wear my ugg boots inside the house as house slippers, and I won’t wear them out. The main reason for this is because I personally think that ugg boots are ugly. In fact, I thought ugg boots were short for ugly boots, but to be honest I don’t know the origin of the word ugg.

Ugg boots by UGG Australia, similar to my own New Zealand-made pair.

I think ugg boots are unflattering and make your legs look fat. The wool and fleece used to make ugg boots naturally makes the boots look fluffy and big. Ugg boots come in different heights – ankle length, calf length or knee length. No matter what length of ugg boot you wear, they will make your feet and legs wider than they really are.

There has been controversy and court cases over whether the word ugg is just a generic word or whether it can be copyrighted. In Australia and New Zealand, ugg boots are widely considered to be a generic word. However, Deckers Outdoor Corporation, a US footwear company, based in California bought the UGG Australia brand and successfully registered it as a trademark, sparking controversy. For example, should a person be allowed to trademark the word ‘high heels’ or ‘sneakers’ or ‘decaffeinated coffee’? Because this is effectively what Deckers has done with the word ‘ugg’.

My own ugg boots are just a generic no-label pair. However, since I was in Australia recently, I thought I would write about the UGG boot. With capital letters, UGG becomes a registered trademark, as opposed to lower case ‘ugg’ the generic boot.

Australian made UGG boots. Genuine UGG boots have the UGG label on the back. These boots are made with merino wool, and the fleece can be rolled up or down.

If you are looking to get UGG boots, it’s better to get ones that are a bit tight, as the wool will flatten over time and the boots will become looser then. But, if you want to wear socks with your UGG boots, then get a pair that’s looser so that socks can fit. UGG also sells special shampoos and conditioners to help take care of the UGG boots. To maintain UGG boots, it is better not to get them wet (another reason NOT to wear UGG boots outdoors).

The usual colours for ugg boots are tan, brown, black and grey. UGG Australia also makes a range of bridal footwear. The white UGG slipper makes completely no sense to me. Why would anyone wear open-toed thong sandals in white wool? Are they for a beach wedding in the middle of winter? There are also sparkly sequinned UGG boots and UGG boots with Swarovski crystal details in the UGG bridal footwear range. Who are these brides who choose to wear UGG boots to their weddings? Are they insane? Or are they getting married in the North Pole?

Would you wear UGG boots to a wedding? Bridal footwear from UGG Australia (Photo from UGG Australia’s website).

Ugg boots are not a style of footwear that I like. Hopefully there will not be too many posts on my blog about shoes that I don’t like.