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Sock therapy: An important accessory for your feet

Gone are the days of boring blacks and greys. The humble garment for the foot is now an important fashion accessory and comes in chic designs and colours.

sock therapy
The socks category has also seen potential growth.

When a pair of socks sneaks through your ankle booties, it becomes an important accessory to transform the most boring outfit. Argyle, plaid, polka dots, funky aliens or umbrellas, bottles, cups in fuchsia, teal, yellow, olive-green coloured prints and patterns are now part of a versatile range of chic socks. In fact, the category has now replaced the traditional and boring blacks and greys.

With most people, the obsession to collect socks and pair them with an outfit every day is no surprise. Throughout winter chills and summer sundowners, socks are now an all-season accessory in chic, contemporary designs that turn a dull black/ grey suit or outfit into a perfect fashion statement. Blame a slew of brands that has exclusively ventured into this category in the past few years, the choices and categories are fast evolving.

There’s a unisex range that one can wear to work, gym or party; now, socks also come in functional designs. Brands like Nike and Adidas offer bold designs for sports or casual activities. Missoni’s men’s collection and Hugo Boss have great vibrant colours; Swedish brand Happy Socks and UK brand Ted Baker have a range of whacky designs. Givenchy and Gucci’s classy, high-end pairs are great for a suave vibe. While Alexander McQueen is apt for daily activities, a Calvin Klein pair is sleek and smart.

Happy feet

International brands offer high prices in good quality, yet buyers have limited options when it comes to India-made designs. “For instance, socks in 2016 were not an important fashion accessory. A few brands were trying to make things right with different offerings, but a pair of socks was a daily requirement and to expect a rational Indian to spend Rs 399 for a pair of socks didn’t make any sense,” says Mumbai-based Rajesh Ghela, who started Dynamocks in 2017 with eight designs and now offers more than 370 designs and operates in India and the US, and soon in Canada.

The USP of Dynamocks is design language and pocket-friendly rates starting from Rs 145. Ghela has made efforts to Indianise socks as a product with prints like cutting chai, garam samosa, rickshaw, and more. “If Western countries can boast designs like pizza, burgers, etc, we can do something similar with an Indian theme,” adds Ghela.

As the urban sense of style and taste gradually evolved, why should a basic item like a pair of socks be left behind? “I observed an apparent gap in the market where creativity and quality were both not being addressed—something you can wear to a boardroom or a fun night out,” says Mumbai-based Purvi Modi Monga, founder and CEO of Mint & Oak, a socks brand started in 2019.

There was a need to identify a large number of pain points for users and innovation was required in designing various categories: students, corporate executives, and highflyers. In 2018, Delhi-based Vidushi Kanoria, co-founder of Soxytoes, looked at better quality and eye-popping designs injected with technology. “We started with a sober category dominated by blacks and greys but soon identified models ideal for casual, formal wear, workouts, travelling and diabetics (comfort, loose top socks tailor-made with non-binding design suited especially for diabetics and those with sensitive feet with ventilation panel for air circulation),” says the 28-year-old co-founder. However, Soxytoes’ website has a disclaimer saying, “These socks don’t cure or treat diabetes. They may be helpful to prevent foot injuries and poor blood circulation resulting from diabetes.”

Soxytoes curates a range of eye-popping sock designs in colours and graphics, expressive motifs and messaging which focus on the community of zoomers and millennials. This is one of the reasons why the socks are priced between Rs 200 and Rs 250. It has a range expanding to corporate and casual socks in pure combed cotton, true heel, seamless toe, and soft grip welt; lounging socks with thick padding and anti-slip grippers; soft comfy infant socks with anti-slip grippers; yoga and pilates socks with minimum coverage and behind heel plus underfoot grippers, besides many other such innovations.

According to Kanoria, the disruption is largely driven by trending social videos (YouTube and Google+) on maintaining excellent grooming appearance. “Increasing spends on health and fitness is generating growing demand for high performance athletic socks as well as product innovation and abstract designs are expected to be the critical success factor in the near future,” says Kanoria.

Best foot forward

Over the years, stars and politicians have made striking statements with the right pair of socks. From supermodel Kendall Jenner who wears socks with sandals to actor Deepika Padukone, who styles kitten heels with socks, and actor Kiara Advani’s luxurious airport look in Christian Dior socks, several celebrities have made the humble garment for the foot a trending fashion accessory.

Canada’s dapper Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a sock-loving politician and has often made public appearances on stage on many occasions. He loves to wear a striking pair to his official meetings and wore red maple-leaf socks for Canada Day on Canada’s 149th birthday in 2016 and a pair of black socks featuring Chewbacca from Star Wars in 2017. George HW Bush styled a blue-and-red pair during an event at the White House in 2013. François Fillon, the former French Prime minister, donned a red, white and blue theme for a meeting in 2013 in Rouez-en-Champagne, France.

Jaipur-based Thela Gaadi is popular among prominent Bollywood actors such as Mrunal Thakur, Shweta Tripathi Sharma and Vicky Kaushal. Founder Kapil Garg, 32, who started in December 2020 after leaving eight years of a full-time IT job, finds his brand’s USP in designs that are not easily available in India. “The box makes you happy and nostalgic as the designs are inspired from 90s’ elements—Looney Tunes, Flintstones, Scooby Doo, Powerpuff Girls. The pricing of socks varies from Rs 249 a pair to Rs 799 (pack of 5 pairs),” adds Garg.

Customer delight is key for Soxytoes with a focus on a range including mid-calf, ankle, low-cut and no-show socks in pure combed cotton, true heel, Achilles’ heel support, arch support, seamless toe, soft grip welt, breathable mesh construction, anti-slip grippers, impact point padding and many others.

Monga of Mint & Oak has made comfort and freshness a USP. “We use N9 freshness technology that neutralises odour-causing bacteria. That’s how we ensure feet breathe through the day. Given the number of hours you wear socks; they should be comfortable. We do a softening wash on socks. The socks have a seamless toe closure. If you turn the sock inside out, you will notice threads coming out near the toe area. This causes irritation while wearing shoes. We do a hand linking at the toe area making it a seamless closure. The socks have a reinforced heel and toe to provide strength in areas which have maximum wear and tear. A single pair of socks is priced at Rs 399,” says Monga.

Mint & Oak has Indian themed collection like ‘The Auto sock’, which is one of the bestselling prints, besides the newly added eco-friendly, moisture-wicking and hypoallergenic range of ‘the athletic bamboo socks’, a pair made from organically grown bamboo.

“The way an individual dresses helps express who they are and brings out their personality. We want people to have the ability to decide how they are feeling: bold, subtle, happy, chirpy. All you need to do is open your sock drawer and express yourself,” adds the 36-year-old founder, who has grown 100% y-o-y and expects the same rate of growth over the next couple of years.

The socks category has also seen potential growth. Garg of Thela Gaadi has sold more than 1.5 lakh pairs of socks till date. On the other hand, Kanoria, who started as a bootstrapped team of three committed sock-preneurs and achieved a sale of 30,000 pairs in the first year, has since grown to a team of size 15. The company sold half a million pairs of socks to over 150,000 satisfied customers in 2021. “We have expanded our business into Australia and will further expand into the UK and North America in 2022. Our vision is to create a global omnichannel lifestyle brand with a top line of $100 million over the next five years,” says Kanoria.

As per statista.com, revenue in the socks segment amounts to $127million in 2021. The market is expected to grow annually by 5.09% (CAGR 2021-2026). In global comparison, most revenue is generated in China ($2,924million in 2021).

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