Unleash your inner freak with some sock innovation – part 2

And release your breath slowly. Feel the inner tension evaporate as we find ourself back with part 2 of todays definite post about sock design and where sock supplies are heading in 2015. In part one I basically covered the factors we look for in a good pair of socks, and somewhat mocked the job satisfaction in being a sock designer. Today the designers will wreak vengeance as we take a closer look as what they are actually coming up with in the name of sock innovation.

The world of socks covers everything from the whitest of white to the darkest of black, with every shade, pattern and variance in between. And yet, are there any hard and fast rules regarding socks, or is it a total free-for-all? To my mind there are basically two rules. For a dark suit wear dark socks, and never wear white tennis socks, unless you are in fact playing tennis.

Apart this, I think socks are probably the one area where you can let your inner freak creative out to play. Most of the time no one will notice what socks you are wearing anyway, and if they do, maybe it will signal that you do in fact have a pulse under that sober exterior? Fun socks are that much more acceptable for an adult than t-shirts with band-names or amusing jokes though. Fun socks let you be the wild man you once were, before life got all serious, if only through a flash of ankle-situated graphic art when crossing your legs.

Which begs the question: What reaction can be expected to flashing a ankle worth of luminescent lobster design at the uninitiated? Will they balk at the cheeky design, reconsider you as a connoisseur of seafood, or admire your hip attitude to menswear? Naturally, there is a chance no one will even notice, as with most things clothes wise where the general rule is that unless you are dishevelled or smelly, what you look like is rarely noticed.

A random selection of socks from a certain persons sock drawer

A random selection of socks from a certain persons sock drawer

I’ll be straight up with you though, my sock game has not been strong. No, I have not stuck to the 5-packs of mono-hued cheapies, but neither have I gone for expensive “specialist” socks or the really brazenly designed ones. For the past 4-5 years I’ve stuck to a British High Street brand for my sock and underwear needs and they have reliably supplied me both frisky and more subtle items, and they wear well. Sounds like a winning formula to me, and what the heck makes a sock “specialist” anyhow? I don’t partake in very many Arctic expeditions or the like, so my sock needs are quite pedestrian, if I can coin a phrase.

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I’m not sure how the new generation of sock merchants operate, whether their marketing is surgical in nature, selecting the most appropriate ambassadors by careful and exact consideration, or whether the approach is more like firing a shotgun into the murky pond of social media. In either case, I was recently contacted by three separate US companies offering sock subscriptions. Suspecting sock subscriptions may be similar to the revival of the British economy through producing artisan pocket squares and leather key rings, I thought it worth a look.

The three merchants that have been in touch with me lately have three slightly different business models, though all are based on mailing out socks. The variations are really about wether you’d like to buy or subscribe, chose or be surprised. We’ll look at them in turn.

Jimmy Lion NYC

The lions behind the company are two Spaniards living in NYC. They produce socks to their own design in Portugal and you can purchase them either singly or as a “4 for 3” pack in either a pre-selected selection or to your own choice, which seems a decent deal. The socks come in a large variety of colourful and inventive designs and contain a sensible blend of cotton and human-made fibres. They are made on proper knitting machines and have the essential hand-linked toes so you avoid that annoying sewn ridge you find in socks that are closed by machine. My favourites are the radish design, though they appear to be sold out now.

  • Sizing: One Size to Fit All and are made to fit US 8-12 / EU 41-46 / UK 7.5-11.5.
  • Pricing: 10 euros a pair or 30 euros for 4 pairs, plus shipping.
  • Content: 82% combed cotton, 16% polyamid, 2% elastane
  • Link: JimmyLionNYC

A couple of my favourites:

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Foot Cardigan

Foot Cardigan is also based in the USA. They also produce socks to their own designs, though this time in Turkey. The socks are made in small batches, so the number of each design is limited to a certain amount. I wasn’t able to find a page full of previous designs on their website, but images here and there hint at there being a lot of zany creativity going on there. Heck, even the name “Foot Cardigan” has a zany ring to it.  The socks are made a of blend of cotton, polyester, to add strength and stretchiness to the mix. They are not hand linked though, so there is that ridge where they have been closed.

  • Sizing: One Size to Fit All and are made to fit US 7-13
  • Pricing: 9$ a month/pair by subscription
  • Content: 74% cotton, 22% polyester, 4% spandex
  • Link: FootCardigan

Some recent socks:

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An aside maybe, as they do have a nice design based on a Corgi, though this appears to be a Pembroke Corgi, not   a Cardigan Corgi, a missed opportunity?

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Say It With A Sock

Yes, Say It With A Sock are also based in the USA. They don’t actually produce their own socks though, but pick from well known socks brands for their selection. You can subscribe and receive one or two pairs a month, with our without a card. Adding the card means it becomes more of an occasion, especially if you are gifting a subscription to someone you care about. Given that the socks are different from month to month I can’t say anything about what they are made of or how they are made.

  • Sizing: One Size, 8-12.5, though I imagine it may vary a little between brands
  • Pricing: 12$ a month for a single pair, 17$ for two pairs, add 3$ for a card
  • Content: Varies
  • Link: Say It With  A Sock

Some recent socks:

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