At last. There is now medical and commercial evidence to suggest that Ugg boots are going out of fashion. The Australian footwear that makes you look like you've got child-bearing ankles and which is – inexplicably – a favourite with otherwise stylish celebrities, is officially a health risk.
The fashion trend that refused to die, despite having the death knell for it sounded as long ago as 2006, may finally be seen off by reports by podiatrists and pharmacists that the sheepskin-lined, structureless bootees cause sprained ankles and raging fungal infections. Hasan Ukra of Boots states that the "moist atmosphere" that Uggs cultivate leads to athlete's foot, while podiatrist Linda Hawkins claims that wearing footwear without any heel or sole support causes ankles to twist more easily.
Certainly, devotees of the Ugg have a trademark walk: a splayed-foot shuffle that, coupled with the almost ubiquitous takeout coffee cup, bears quite a resemblance to a tramp looking for a handout. Even the glossy posse of Sienna Miller and Cameron Diaz can't carry them off with any conviction.
The problem seems to be that sheepskin boots make wonderful slippers – the soft, fluffy interior obviating the need for socks (that's certainly what endeared Australia's drovers and surfers to them decades before they became trendy). And who hasn't dreamt of wearing their slippers all day? But what makes those who sneer at men dressed in sweatpants think that flumpy, comfy bootees are OK to wear down Rodeo Drive or Bond Street? They're just a shuffling step away from "the big slipper", a distinctly unfashionable item traditionally advertised in the back of weekend supplements.
Perhaps Leonardo DiCaprio, one of the growing number of male celebrities who favour Uggs, hasn't leafed through the classified pages recently. He might want to step away from the sheepskin when he realises that his feet may splay to the point at which they can't then be contained in sensible lace-ups, or that this week's supermodel girlfriend doesn't fancy dipping her toes into a bed already occupied by clammy, smelly digits.
Being fashionable often means suffering discomfort, but the payback is usually, er, looking fashionable. Hammer toes and bunions are a small price to pay for a smoothed out and statuesque silhouette – that's why Manolo Blahnik and Christian Louboutin will survive recessions.
Ugg, however, may not. A big pre-Christmas seller, the latest incarnation of the boots retail at £180 from their leading UK stockist, Kate Kuba. However, the company has since called in administrators and closed its nine London shops.
The irony is that with sub-zero temperatures outside, now might just be a permissible time to walk around in Uggs. If you must, just make sure you dry your feet – and watch those wonky kerbstones.