Socks are in.
Not the boring white and black ones we’ve been wearing for centuries, but bold patterns, bright colors, and saucy knee-high socks with everything from lips and zippers to superheroes and cartoon characters.
The trend has caught the attention of not just women, who wear the fancy socks peeking out of knee-high boots, but men, who are kicking safe black socks to the curb in favor of lively colors and dashing prints.
Some say the socks let them sneak a little creativity into their conservative work wardrobe.
“It’s where you can personalize, because [socks aren’t] going to be noticed as much as a shirt or tie,” said Bill Hinton, fashion consultant at Diamond’s Men’s Shop in the Spring Meadows shopping plaza on Airport Highway in Springfield Township. “We’ve always carried socks, but in the last year or so, we started carrying the prints. They were really big in the summer and fall, and we expect that with Easter coming up, they’ll be even more popular.”
The sock business is booming online at sites like Joyofsocks.com, Sockittome.com, and Strideline.com. Locally, shoppers are getting them at stores such as Diamond’s and chain retailers including TJ Maxx and Macy’s. Sporting goods stores like Dick’s and Finish Line are selling eye-catching athletic socks.
The style has become increasingly popular among athletes who wear team uniforms, but find a sense of individuality in their sock styles. In 2012, Olympian and Toledo native Erik Kynard jazzed up his Olympic uniforms with flamboyant American flag socks. For his Kansas State University meets, he wears purple and white striped socks.
“The sock thing started from him, because he did not like how plain his track uniforms had been,” said Brandynn Adams, Mr. Kynard’s mother. “He’s very fashion forward and always has been.”
In recent years, manufacturers realized the financial potential of socks, and started creating designs that match jerseys and shoes worn and named after professional athletes. NBA all-stars Kevin Durant and LeBron James both have their own line of athletic socks under the Nike brand and Derrick Rose has a line under Adidas. Last year, Dwyane Wade designed and released his own line of funky casual socks. The line, part of the Stance collection, features some uncommon threads in animal prints and tropical scenes.
Locally, the boys and girls of the Maumee Panthers elementary basketball teams are looking toward their feet for ways to express themselves and stand out from the crowd. During games and practices, the Lady Panthers can be seen sporting flaming footies and knee-high hues, while the boys tend to gravitate toward athletic and performance socks.
Logan Nye, 9, said the socks feel better on his feet and help keep them dry during games and practices, but most importantly, “they look cool.”
The American sock industry brought in $4.22 billion during a 12-month period that ended in April, 2012, and is expected to reach sales of $20.3 billion by 2015, market analysts say.
Novelty athletic socks play a big part in the industry’s growth, with brands like Nike and Under Armour creating performance socks with sweat-wicking fabrics and designs that are anatomically correct for each foot.
Chic socks, athletic or casual, can come as cheap as $4 a pair or run well over $25 a pair at high-end retailers, depending on the designer.
Contact RoNeisha Mullen at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6133