Wool socks. Dress socks. Ankle socks. Invisible socks. Socks with pizza embroidered on them. Like Forrest Gump’s Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue, we could go on and on. The gift every kid hated getting for Christmas is now the one all adults covet—but how much do you actually know about socks, other than they keep your feet warm? Let’s find out.
A Brief History of Socks
Believe it or not, socks have been around for thousands of years. The first knitted items were invented in Jutland, the peninsula that forms Denmark, as early as 1500 B.C.; the first knitted, sock-like items were found in Egyptian tombs in Antinopolis that date to around 500 A.D. However, though they’re a wardrobe staple now, socks weren’t always so commonplace.
For many years, socks were a luxury only the wealthy could afford, as patterns and manufacturing methods were guild secrets. During the Middle Ages, pants and stockings together formed one piece of clothing. But because the stockings became dirty more quickly than the pants, people found they needed to change their stockings more frequently. Over time, these stockings evolved into the socks we know and love today.
After the Industrial Revolution, socks became easier and cheaper to produce, spreading their appeal across Europe. And now, the footwear that was once exclusively made of wool now come in a range of materials, including cotton and cashmere. (Although nothing beats a pair of wool socks on a particularly cold day.)
In 1938, the sock game changed with the invention of nylon, which lent strength and elasticity to our favorite piece of footwear. This paved the way for modern companies, like SOCCO, to eventually create the perfect formula (80/17/3 cotton/polyester/spandex) for an UNBELIEVABLY comfortable and durable pair of socks.
“We’re proud to have developed a cotton-rich formula that showcases a heavier denier yarn with old-school knitting techniques, to create an amazingly comfortable and durable sock with a modern fit,” says SOCCO rep. Carson Joyner.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
As you can imagine, socks have come a long way since 1500 B.C. These days, if you took a poll of your coworkers, you’d probably find that each one wore a different style of sock. Different styles of socks have been en vogue throughout the years and, like most fashion trends, their popularity has been cyclical. For example, argyle prints were a hit, during the roaring 1920s and can once again be found on the feet of many ambitious businessmen and women today. Remember those socks with loud patterns that were once only worn by the eccentric girl in your seventh-grade class? They’re now commonplace and even celebrated.
Advances in manufacturing have made it possible to market a wider variety of socks. Now, cotton can be more accurately dyed and woven, allowing for bolder, more colorful pairs of socks to be created. Although black and white socks will always be standards, colorful, fun, frivolous socks are making a bigger name for themselves in the fashion game.
“Socks have been traditionally viewed as a commodity, but as with most things, the category continued to grow and became more specialized over time,” Joyner said. “With new technology came dynamic weaving and printing techniques, which have proven that socks can be an affordable way of showing one’s personality in the most unlikely of places.” And the best part is that SOCCO uses these techniques exclusively in the USA. “Our socks are 100% Made in the USA, and from USA sourced materials. These products must be made in strict accordance with labor, quality and environmental standards that keep our neighbors safe and sound. We take great pride in our process and the heritage of those who produced here in the USA before us,” says Joyner.
Walk, Walk Fashion, Baby
A recent article in V Magazine laid out trends for fall/winter 2019, and chief among them were socks. Designers like Gucci, Anna Sui, and Miu Miu all sent models down the runway donning socks in a variety of colorful patterns and styles, and many wore socks in rather unconventional ways, including with heels, with booties or layered over tights. These socks were meant to be seen. But if you’re not ready to commit to the whole look just yet, that’s OK—in fact, that’s the great thing about socks. They’re inexpensive, low-commitment fashion items that enable the wearer to take a few fashion risks without worrying about their appearance.
“With the decoration options available (now), socks are a perfect platform to customize your message or show your allegiance to a brand,” Joyner said.
In fact, according to, Business of Fashion, socks are fashion’s secret weapon. Branded, monogrammed and embellished designer footwear have fashionistas flocking to stores around the world. Socks—once the blandest piece of clothing in your wardrobe—has become a sort of status symbol, and the numbers show it. Grand View Research reports that the global sock market was valued at around $42.2 billion in 2018, with that number predicted to increase year over year. The emergence of socks as a fashion accessory, particularly among millennials, significantly contributes to this staggering growth in revenue.
It’s the Thought that Counts
The bottom line is that everyone needs socks and there’s a sock for everyone, from the most boring white gym sock to the most colorful patterned stocking. Socks aren’t just utilitarian anymore—they’re fun! Thanks to their rebirth (and a designer label or two), socks are more than just an acceptable, ho-hum gift. They’re a fashionable status symbol that will give you a leg up.
“The holidays are a time for rejoicing, reflection, and renewal,” Joyner said. “Fresh socks are always welcome. They’re affordable and they fit great in a giant sock—AKA stocking!”
- How to Price for Profit, during COVID-19 - July 2, 2020
- Should You Sell Licensed Collegiate and Sports Apparel? - June 25, 2020
- What Streetwear Brands’ Response to COVID Says About the Future of Apparel - June 19, 2020