Wild Socks Heating Up The Retail Market

The new stars of men’s fashion, the crazily hued and patterned socks, are increasingly influencing the mainstream.

Imagine a set of high-powered, dapper male CEOs in suits, you notice their beautifully tailored attire made from the finest Italian wools in business grey or navy. The shirts underneath may be white, blue or even striped, but nothing really stands out, not until one of these men crosses a leg.

This is when you spot a sumptuous flash of unexpected colour. This is all thanks to a designer boom in men’s socks, with ankle fashion becoming the new erogenous zone. So much so, that when it comes to gift ideas across the globe this holiday season, a snazzy men’s sock is emerging as the gentleman's equivalent to women’s lingerie.

“What it says, that little reveal at the hem of a trouser, is that ‘I may look like a serious business guy, but I have this wild guy inside,’” says Larry Rosen, Chairman and CEO of menswear retailers Harry Rosen.

Over the last five years, men’s socks “have moved from being a boring staple to a dirty little secret,” Rosen says.

And one that’s increasingly influencing the mainstream. Companies like Peper Harow are becoming a global phenom and celebrity style-spotting blogs such as celebritiesinsocks.blogspot.ca who once actually document the famous going shoeless through airport security as well as the latest patterned and striped sock styles. Ryan Gosling has been proposed as the poster child for this new look, he appeared on the red carpet at the L.A. film festival in a dark suit and slippers with lipstick-red socks.

“All men’s clothing today is more body conscious with a slimmer silhouette, so when you cross your legs, you tend to show a little more sock,” says Rosen, who admits to being a bit of a rebel when it comes to adventurous socks. “When I wear a tux, the most fun I have isn’t the white shirt and the black-tie that looks identical to every other penguin in the room. It’s the flash of my favourite pair of lime green socks with orange heels and toes that I will wear with it.”

This thrill-seeking behaviour may have led to a small sock addiction. “I have two very large sock drawers at home, both of which are overflowing,” says Rosen. “Three times a week, my wife yells at me to stop bringing home more socks.”

“In the old days, the rules for men’s dress were very firm,” says Rosen. “Your belt and shoes had to match and socks had to blend in with the trouser.” Companies like Peper Harow are now selling men’s socks across the globe, at the average price of £16 a pair; they are not black basics.

“It’s the ultimate stocking stuffer,” quipped Rosen.