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Sheepskin Story

Learn about what “Sheepskin” really means:

Woman in sheepskin boots

Sheepskin, or wool, has clothed people for millennia, keeping them warm in wintry climates and comfortable in warmer environments. Also known as shearing or fleece, sheepskin continues to be a timeless choice. It is an extremely versatile material, and is used to make many kinds of clothing, from coats and hats to socks and gloves. Footwear has been one of the most popular uses for sheepskin; boots, slippers, and clogs made of sheepskin are valued for their comfort and style.

The Origins of Australian Sheepskin

Austrailian grassland

The initial European colonists settled hundreds of years ago in Australia with their sheep. The Australian rural landscape is uniquely suited to sheep, as the weather remains relatively mild and the landscape encompasses massive expanses of natural grassland. Similar to most any primitive lifestyle, it was important for the earliest settlers to put all possessions to complete use, as resources were often scarce. Not only were sheep used as a lucrative crop, for trading purposes, and as a source of food, but they were used for clothing as well. With its dominance of the sheep industry for such an extended time, it is no wonder Australia was said to "ride on the sheep's back."

Although the number of sheep has declined in recent years, from 170 million in 1991 to 76.9 million in 2008, wool is still one of the largest agricultural exports from Australia and continues to hold the top production placement in the world. Australia exports to 52 countries worldwide, with a majority of business from China, Italy, India, Taiwan, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, France and Germany.

Austrailian Merino(sheep)

Currently, 85 percent of all Australian sheep are a breed called the "Australian Merino." The outstanding feature of this sheep is its large size, and is known primarily for its heavy fleeces of fine quality wool. It is a distinct breed that has adapted to the specific conditions of the Australian countryside.

Geelong, on the south east coast of Australia, is considered the wool capital of the world. In fact, EMU Australia, a premier manufacturer of sheepskin products, controls all processes from sourcing and tanning to manufacturing in the Geelong location.

Sheepskin = Shearling = Fleece = Wool

Over time, sheepskin boot production became as much a part of the Australian history as the cowboy boot is to America's Western heritage. Sheepskin hides were put to use to create all forms of clothing, including footwear. The Aussie ranchers made their boots from the skins of the Merino sheep, after discovering the unsurpassed quality of Merino sheep wool.

From the 1820s on, it is this highly valued wool that was Australia’s primary export product. The Merino sheepskin is perhaps nature’s most perfect material for footwear: durable, yet extremely soft and lightweight, it creates a boot that has a rich suede texture on the outside and the smooth, gentle fleece lining on the inside. This is one reason why sheepskin boots are so cozy.

What Makes Sheepskin Special

UGG cutaway

Still strong enough for outdoor wear, it is the Merino sheepskin that is responsible for the boots' snug, comfy, foot-molding property that feels like gigantic socks when slipped around your feet. The exceptional fleece lining is a product that can be worn all times of the year, in extreme cold or in the heat of summer. In cold conditions, the fleece supplies the feet with an insulating layer of warmth by trapping in body heat. In the heat, the natural fibers of the fleece actually keep your feet cool by pulling perspiration away from your skin; thus keeping air circulating in the boots keeping your feet dry.

Since sheepskin is naturally thermostatic, you can wear them in conditions from-30 F to as high as your thermometer will go! Also, sheepskin contains lanolin and will moisturize your feet when worn barefoot. In Australia and the US, the typical way to wear sheepskin footwear is without socks.

Tanning of Sheepskin

Tanning refers to treating the sheepskin and adding color. Most sheepskin manufacturers have two different methods for tanning. Below is a brief summary of these two steps.

Drum Dye

  1. After the Dry Cleaning process the skins are laced in a drum.
  2. They are fully dyed both pent and wool to the color required.
  3. The skins are dried again.
  4. The skins are Buffed, Trimmed, Brushed and Ironed.
  5. Final inspection takes place and they are complete.

Roller Coated

  1. Instead of going into the Drum for dying they proceed directly to Buffing.
  2. At this point the skins are placed on a Roller Coating machine and colored to the required color.
  3. The skins are then Trimmed, Brushed and Ironed.
  4. Final inspection takes place and they are complete.

Sheepskin Today

In 2002, fashion industries around the world determined it was an appropriate time to popularize sheepskin products. How? By producing and promoting countless styles of footwear and clothing made out of sheepskin. What started out as purely beach-scene style made its way to ski areas and ultimately wound up finding popularity in the mainstream fashion industry.

Finally, consumers could obtain the best of both worlds: a product that is delightful to wear and is still considered fashionable. The versatility and popularity of sheepskin is a clear sign that it is no longer a secret of the surfers. Much of this exposure has been driven by the high visibility of the UGG Australia brand. Decker’s Corporation, owners of UGG Australia, has marketed their cozy little sheepskin boots very well and opened a market that caters to all ages and in all fashion senses.

Currently sheepskin has taken on a new meaning, with limitless possibilities. Take some time to looks through various brands, you will find that a new “designer” style has emerged showcasing products made with intricate details that cross over casual and high-fashion.

Sheepskin Brands

  • UGG bag

    "Great bags are the perfect next step for such a greatly loved shoe collection", says Greg Besner, the president of UGG Australia.

    UGG Australia

    In 1960 the first Australian surfers decided to start wearing cozy sheepskin boots right out of the water to warm their cold feet. Since then, UGG Australia has taken their brand to the next level by leading the sheepskin footwear industry and has since introduced accessories, apparel, shoes, sandals and slippers. UGG Australia however, still best known for opening the doors to high production of quality sheepskin boots.

    UGG Australia

  • Emu

    Peerless when it comes to their production and continuing the business with national pride, EMU Australia is “Naturally Australian” with its headquarters still in Geelong, its birthplace and one of the prime producers of fine wool in the entire country. For more than 15 years, EMU has designed boots drawing inspiration from the Australian surf and surroundings. The brand is dedicated to creating quality footwear, accessories and apparel while maintaining affordable prices for the consumer.


  • Minnetonka Moccasin

    Finding inspiration from nature and American style, Minnetonka Moccasin is an American-based manufacturer of fine sheepskin moccasins, boots and casual footwear. They have been combining quality, style, and comfort with value. Minnetonka Moccasins use the only best leathers, crafted in the most popular styles, to produce the best fitting and longest lasting comfort available.

    Minnetonka Moccasin

  • Koolaburra Boots

    "We delight in the special details and chic embellishments that have become our signature."


    Clifford and Percy Severn founded Koolaburra in 1991 with the commitment to offer the very best Australian sheepskin footwear available. Their search throughout Australia led them to a small group of artisans whose commitment matched their own. Today, Koolaburra has continued on with the Severns’ idea of fine craftsmanship and has expanded their line with boots, slippers and sandals that pay homage to quality and style. Koolaburra has created an ever changing line for women and children that offer beautiful products that push the fashion envelope.


  • Cloud Nine

    Founded in 1976, Cloud Nine has spent almost thirty years putting together one of the largest selections of sheepskin slippers and sheepskin accessories in the country. Their commitment to a standard of excellence has shined through to thousands of customers over the years.

    Cloud Nine uses only the finest premium grade sheepskin pelts, selected for their density, strength, and quality. Almost all the sheepskins used in the production are from Australia, New Zealand and the USA. The hides are tanned with the best technology available, in factories all over the world.

    Cloud Nine

  • Staheekum

    Experience the feel of luxurious sheepskin around your feet and you will then understand why Staheekum is synonymous with relaxed surroundings. Offering well crafted slippers and boots and made from selected fine, natural sheepskin there is an unparalleled level of comfort. Staheekum offers a vast array of womens, mens and children’s footwear.


  • Warmbat Australia

    Warmbat Australia offers years of design and quality experience, with an emphasis and touches of fashion. Warmbat Australia boots and slippers are made with 100% real Australian merino wool, 100% natural rubber soles, real memory foam footbeds and double stitching for additional reinforcement. Whatever the time and weather, Warmbat Australia ensures a selection perfect for any consumer.

    Warmbat Australia

  • Acorn

    Acorn Footwear

    Acorn founder David Quinn's goal is to bring "Comfort on Earth" to consumers who value quality, workmanship, and performance.

    The Acorn mission is “comfort on earth” for every customer. Since 1976, Acorn has accumulated a wealth of knowledge about comfort and warmth, and imparts this expertise into each pair of boots. Some pairs have accompanied astronauts millions of miles into outer space and others have been wear-tested atop Mt. Everest by Tenzing Norgay and his sherpas. Acorn Slippers and sheepskin footwear is top quality with very affordable prices.


  • Penelope Wildberry

    Penelope Wildberry blends cutting edge design that appeal to those who want to express their individuality. Every pair is a one of a kind piece or art being hand-painted and available for Swarovski crystal embellishments. Since 2008, Penelope Wildberry has created funky, fun-spirited, and trendy lines for women, juniors and children. Penelope Wildberry also offers accessories to compliment the shoes and the cool attitude.

    Penelope Wildberry

  • LAMO

    From Los Angeles, California - LAMO produces high quality sheepskin footwear after having invested much time to develop their brand and products. LAMO is inspired by comfort and fashion bringing the “LA state of style” to every shoe and every customer. LAMO sandals, slippers and boots allow you to express your fashionable self without compromising comfort.


  • Beach Feet

    Beach Feet Boots

    Since 1986 Beach Feet Boots has developed footwear that is the closest thing to barefoot you'll ever wear.

    Since 1986, Beach Feet has developed footwear that is "The Closest Thing to Barefoot You'll Ever Wear." Beach Feet's Australian Boots and slippers are designed to look good and provide maximum comfort with classic boots to fashion boots. Their Unique natural wool lining breathes, wicks moisture, warms you in cold temperatures, and cools you at warm times. The best part is your feet will never feel better!

    Beach Feet

  • Aussie Dogs

    Since 1989, Aussie Dogs has been the epitome of surf and business spirit. From the entrepreneurial sense of surfer, Chris Watts, the brand has come to be known for manufacturing high quality, sheepskin footwear for adults and children. Aussie Dogs offers everything from classic to fashion sheepskin boots at very affordable prices and is based in San Clemente, California.

    Aussie Dogs

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