June 18, 2024

Once a taboo fashion pairing that made men look like they were going foot commando, socks and sandals have recently captivated street style stars and runway models alike. Here’s why you should take up this fun trend too.

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The history of the sock

Back in the day, socks were just another garment you put on over your feet to keep them warm and dry. But they have since morphed into their own fashion item that’s worn to add flair and style to any outfit. Today, the sock is more popular than ever and has even appeared on the runways of Dolce & Gabbana and Prada.

The earliest known pair of socks dates back to 300 A.D. They were found in an Egyptian burial ground and made using a weaving technique called nalebinding. But, they weren’t anything like the funky patterns and bright colors available now. In fact, people actually wrapped their feet in cloth to avoid getting them dirty a lot sooner.

In the 1600s, things got a lot more serious with socks. Hosiery was regulated and people were actually sent to prison for wearing the wrong kind in England. And it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that technology pushed socks much further into the future. Circular looms were now churning out socks at a rate much faster than hand knitters could manage.

Then came the invention of punched cards with patterns, which allowed machines to create complex and unique designs on each sock. And the addition of elastane pushed socks even further into the future. This new material allowed them to stretch to fit a wide range of foot sizes without the need for garters, which were still being worn by many.

The modern sock

When it comes to socks, there’s no shortage of popular culture references. We’ve all seen the scene in movies where a family gathers around someone’s birthday or Christmas to watch them open a box of plain white tube socks. Then, after they muster a grateful smile and thank their lucky stars, they hurriedly put them on, ready to face the world.

Socks are more than just foot coverings, though. They come with a huge amount of cultural and social baggage, from not wearing them in public to taking them off when visiting a place of worship or someone’s home. Socks also tell us a lot about a culture and time period – the argyle pattern, for example, was a symbol of Scottish clans.

The biggest moment in the history of socks, however, was when the synthetic fabric nylon was introduced in 1938. This massively changed the sock landscape and allowed manufacturers to produce high quality socks in bulk for much cheaper than before. Today, a sock will often include Spandex (a fine and stretchy elastic), alongside natural fibers like cotton or wool. For example, SmartWool’s Phd hikers use a sandwich knit to make their socks, which puts the wool on the inside and outside of the sock for performance and durability. But perhaps the most significant development in the modern sock was when it became possible to make them globally. Nowadays, Datang in China is known as Sock City, making over 22 billion pairs each year – that’s 35% of the world total!mypopsox

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