Novelty socks are getting their moment in the spotlight. Not only are they grabbing market share in $35 billion non-sheer hosiery category, they’re showing up everywhere, adding a bit of fun to outfits and even serving as poignant remembrance.
During former President George H.W. Bush’s funeral this month, people across the country posted photos of their colorful socks on social media using the hashtag #SocksForBush, as a tribute to the politician’s love of unique socks.
It was a very fitting tribute: The 41st president donned Bill Clinton socks last summer during a visit from Clinton, president number 42.
Suddenly, consumers everywhere have colorful sock stories. Here, WWD records a few.
* Kirsten Dzurka Clark has been wearing colorful socks for nearly two decades, way before it was fashionable.
“Regular socks are just to keep your feet warm,” Clark said. “I’d rather not wear socks at all than wear them. They’re just a waste of fabric. I figure, if they can keep my feet warm and be cute at the same time, why wouldn’t I?”
She even takes credit for introducing her boyfriend, Rob, to novelty socks. Clark said he was resistant to the trend at first, but is slowly coming around.
“He’s not exactly a crazy fashion guy,” she said. “Now he’s dipping his toe into slightly fun socks.”
In fact, Clark said her boyfriend, an airline pilot based in New York, was doing his regular airline duties, greeting passengers, when his pant leg got stuck on a chair in first class. That’s when a passenger inquired about his socks. Suddenly the whole cabin wanted to take a look. The pilot did what was only natural: He pulled up his pant leg to show off his socks, a pair of black compression socks with neon green shapes and stripes on them.
Everyone was so impressed that he proceeded to do a mini-runway performance right there in the aisle of the airline, which was followed by a round of applause.
Clark is planning on stuffing his stocking with more socks this Christmas, possibly ones with airplanes or sailboats on them.
* Michael Scaia started buying individual socks after landing a job where he had to dress up for work. He said the slightly more expensive socks are a fun way to spice up any suit and something he could easily show off with ankle-cut pants.
Now he owns about a hundred pairs of novelty socks. His sock drawer is stuffed full of colorful options, including H&M socks with dancing avocado rolls on them, Jimi Hendrix socks from Odd Sox and a pair of Scooby Doo socks he found at T.J. Maxx. Scaia is also a big fan of Sock It to Me and Happy Socks.
“I was bored with regular, plain-old, run-of-the-mill socks,” he said. “I never buy regular socks anymore.”
* Kimberly Yuen said friends are constantly giving her socks with pandas on them, one of her favorite animals. The New Yorker also likes to give socks as presents.
“They’re pretty inexpensive and everybody wears them; you’re going to need them at some point,” Yuen said. “You can get socks that tailor to the person’s personality. And as far as sizing goes, you can’t really mess it up.”