Chances are, there’s at least one pair of shearling boots sitting in your closet at this moment: perhaps the pair you started wearing in college that you can’t bear to part with because they’re so damn comfortable, or the waterproof shoes that saved your toes through multiple blizzards, and maybe a few more precious styles you’ve bought over the years whenever fuzzy details were the trend du jour. Recently launched brand Ross & Snow seemingly isn’t here to just coax you out of more closet space. However, it’ll encourage you to rethink how you’re stocking it with this specific item.
“Shearling is one of those materials that is fairly misunderstood,”says Leah Larson, Ross & Snow’s VP of product and creative director. She would know. Prior to her current role, Larson spent 12 years at Ugg and served as the brand’s creative chief. “My previous life, it’s very known for a specific silhouette, so this opportunity allows me to build products, utilizing the incredible material, but on shoes that you would wear every day.”
Ross & Snow was founded by industry veterans and Zappos alums Fred and Meghan Mossler and Steve Hill. And as Larson shares, she joined at a time when all of them were ready for a new adventure and challenge. With this is mind, the brand doesn’t exclusively identify as a winter boot company; rather, it’s a “city-meets-country-meets-snow-bunny” aesthetic, says Larson — one that offers designs polished enough to be worn for multiple occasions, yet practical where it counts.
Whether obvious in the design or not, each pair of the brand’s shoes includes shearling, which Ross & Snow positions as a “seasonless luxury.”
“It’s really about having that tactile touch, regardless of what the silhouette looks like,” says Larson, who adds that, despite the material’s reputation, there’s a much more use for shearling than meets the eye. “It’s thermoregulating, it’s wicking, it’s got natural lanolin. People just assume that it just makes your feet warm, which it does, but it also can regulate your body temperature and keep you cool.”
It may seem like the leap from one shearling-focused brand (Ugg) to another is a short one, but as Larson points out, Ross & Snow is setting itself apart with its timeless designs and focus on luxurious materials and Italian craftsmanship. “The materials we’re using are from the same tanneries as the couture brands and we’re using them in a completely different way,” she says. While some designs are a bit plushier, the majority of styles comprise knee-high heels, fuzzy trimmed booties and classic motos — the latter being a brand signature.
Larson says that she, the Mosslers and Hill, see Ross & Snow as a much-needed antidote to fast fashion. “We really wanted to bring the traditions back to footwear and the art of the craft, moving away from fast fashion and building product that is timeless and built to last, not something you’ll have for a month or a season,” she explains.
That said, winter might seem like the obvious time to wear one of the shearling-lined styles, yet part of the goal for the company is to stay front of mind between April and November as well. “We’re using shearling in a multitude of ways next season,” Larson says. Some of the spring- and summer-friendly designs we can look forward to include an elevated high wedge that’s completely waterproof, as well as unlined sandals that feature a puff of shearling for a playful touch. According to the company’s creative director and long-time shearling savant, this particular material is the key to maintaining an air of luxury and all-season functionality. As she puts it: “When you wear it, you know that nothing feels better.”