Ugg entrepreneur Brian Smith to speak at IU's Whittenberger Auditorium

  • March 17, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Just a quick look around campus will reveal the impact Brian Smith has had on footwear. Uggs and their countless knockoffs are everywhere. The ubiquitous sheepskin boot is the creation of Smith, an innovator, entrepreneur and the founder of Ugg.

The Indiana University Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design will bring Smith to Bloomington as a 2015 Bill Blass Design Seminar Lecturer. Smith will share his experiences as an entrepreneur and business leader at 3 p.m. March 24 in Whittenberger Auditorium in the Indiana Memorial Union. The hourlong lecture is free and open to the public.

Smith was born in Australia, where he fell in love with surfing. After becoming a chartered accountant, akin to a certified public accountant, he came to Los Angeles and studied at the UCLA Graduate School of Management. With $500 of start-up money, he founded Ugg Imports to bring sheepskin footwear to the United States. After 17 years and sales of $15 million, he sold the business to Deckers Outdoor Corp. The Ugg brand has since exceeded $1 billion of international sales several times over.

"We are very pleased to be able to bring Mr. Smith to Bloomington," said Kelly Richardson, curator of IU's Sage Fashion Collection. "His creative vision and business insight combined to create an iconic form of footwear that represents the casual-luxury lifestyle that has been so pervasive in our culture since the 1980s. Our students are exceptionally fortunate to have the opportunity to meet and talk with this groundbreaking and influential entrepreneur."

A passionate innovator, Smith said he is committed to teaching his business strategies and translating personal vision into company culture.

These days, he spends his time with family and friends in Southern California, plays golf and still surfs. Smith said he attempts to improve the planet every day.

His appearance at IU is made possible through the Bill Blass Design Seminar Series established in 2002 with a bequest from fashion designer Bill Blass, a native Hoosier and friend of Indiana University. The Bill Blass Design Seminar Series is presented and hosted by the Department of Apparel Merchandising and Interior Design and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Smith's book "The Birth of a Brand" will be available for purchase. After his talk, a book signing will follow until 4:30 p.m.

Media Contacts

Kelly Richardson

Sage Fashion Collection curator

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