The sock category, often forgotten as a niche market, is growing as luxury houses are producing socks for men and women and a mix of smaller sock-based brands are selling at retailers.
For men, socks are a way to peacock and show off according to Melissa Gallagher, senior vice president, divisional merchandise manager, Men’s Footwear and Accessories, and Home, Barneys New York, “men want to complement their shoes with socks, and make just as much of a statement with their socks as they do with their shoes. Socks are turning into a perennial accessory, not just a fall trend.”
At the fall women’s collections statement making socks walked down the runways in each city, but not as just a styling trick. A look at Net-a-Porter shows socks produced by Balenciaga, Gucci, Vetements, Valentino, Marni and Fendi retailing in the $95 to $180 range.
“We, as a sock specialty company, really appreciate that a lot of big-name high fashion brands are starting to produce their own socks showing there is a trend that socks are more than just commodities and instead seen as trendy and fashionable,” said Kazuhiro Takezawa, U.S. Market General Manager for Tabio a 50-year-old Japanese sock brand which has their own e-commerace and sells at Opening Ceremony.
Socks have played an important part of the Japanese fashion culture with “Japanese customers enjoy mixing and matching their favorite fashion pieces from various brands with socks being used as a way to elevate their daily style.” Takezawa continued. Socks as a fashion statement is a growing trend in the west as is already the norm in Japan.
Other smaller brands that make ready-to-wear as well as socks are seizing the moment. Maria La Rose, an independent designer from Italy designs colorful metallic coated silk blend socks, and Molly Goddard, an emerging designer from London designs colorful check pattern socks and socks with ruffles, each are carried at retail by Matchesfashion.com and La Garçonne.
“In the U.S. market, we have seen a rise in seasonal, fashion-oriented products such as sheer and tulle socks thanks to a lot of great publicity from fashion publications and influencers,” Takezawa commented. “But there is still quite a bit of great potential for growth in the fashion socks space.”