Let’s begin with a “Back in my day” story.
Back in my day, the socks that guys wore with sneakers were white (and dress socks were either black or blue). They might have a couple of colored stripes at the top, but that was it. Usually they came in a pack of at least three. That was all there was to them. And we wore them uphill through the snow on the three-mile trek to school each day until they blew out with holes in either the heels or toes (or both). OK, maybe the uphill/snow part is borrowed from other “back in my day” stories.
But given where socks have come today, those times seem like the white ages. Today, brands like Happy Socks, Stance, and Richer Poorer are creating socks in every color under the sun (as well as some inspired by other parts of the universe). More and more, those companies aren’t just relying on their in-house teams for creative inspiration. The sock collaboration, whether it be with artists, musicians, athletes, or other brands, has been on the rise in recent years and is making what you wear under your sneakers as important as the sneakers themselves.
While at first the sock may seem like an odd item to focus design attention on, it makes perfect sense if you think about it. It’s a unique canvas, for one, and recent technology advances dramatically simplified the process of adding intricate graphics to a pair of socks. Socks are also much cheaper than a pair of kicks. So while you may not be able to cop new Air Jordans every Saturday, scoring some dope socks is easy. Socks are also a great place to express your personal style. You can wear bolder socks with more confidence than, say, a loud shirt since your hosiery is covered up by pants. But when they peek out, it’s like you’re letting people around you in on a secret. Given that, it’s no surprise that coolguys in every field want collaborate on socks.
If you’re ready to up your sock game, here are six collaborations that should be at the top of your list.
STANCE X COLETTE
$108 (for 3 pairs), colette.fr
Colette is the coolest boutique in France and every time they do a collaboration in their signature blue, it’s worth noting. This set of socks is no exception. Artist Kevin Lyons and Jean André lent their designs to the three pairs of socks in the collection. They collab also includes a set of custom-designed skateboard wheels by the artists.
RICHER POORER X FREENOTE CLOTH
$48 (for 2 pairs), richer-poorer.com
It only makes sense that a menswear brand like Freenote Cloth team up with sock maker Richer Poorer. The two brands are located near each other in San Juan Capistrano, CA and have a shared passion for well-made products, especially those made in the U.S.A. Their two-pack of wool socks are knit in a family factory in North Carolina and packaged in selvedge denim scraps left over from Freenote’s jeans.
HAPPY SOCKS X ANDRE
$40 (for 3 pairs), happysocks.com
The idea of saving the box that your socks come in may seem strange until you see the packaging for artist André Saraiva’s collaboration with Swedish brand Happy Socks. The box and the socks are adorned with Saraiva’s artwork, including his graffiti character Mr. A. The blue and pink add the perfect pop of color when they pop out beneath dark pants and shoes.
STANCE X CADDYSHACK
If you can’t appreciate a sock with the gopher from Caddyshack on it then something is wrong with you. The tormentor of Carl Spackler and face of a thousand driver covers adorns Stance’s Aftermath sock. The resolution of the image is incredible. Wearing these on the golf course will definitely show all your playing partners that you’re more Ty Webb than Judge Smails.
HAPPY SOCKS X ROBERT RODRIGUEZ
Sin City director Robert Rodriguez didn’t just contribute his ideas for a gore-themed sock, he also directed a short film for Happy Socks titled Sock Em Dead. These fang and blood socks are made with an incredibly soft combed cotton and work great for Halloween or any time you want to scare someone.
STANCE X STAR WARS
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away people did not have access to socks this cool. There were no shortage of cool collaborations around the latest Star Wars movie, but these Stance socks were one of the few you actually wanted to put on your body. Sure, they made socks for Darth Vader, Yoda, and Chewbacca, but it doesn’t get better than this “Bounty” pair with Han Solo on one foot and Boba Fett on the other.