For a long time, one of the most essential garments in everyday life was often the most overlooked and undervalued.
Not that it was unappreciated. But socks simply were void of creativity and capturing the eye of an ever growing desire of those looking to express their individual style.
That was until 2008, in Sweden’s capital city of Stockholm, long-time friends (CEO) Mikael Söderlindh and (Creative Director) Viktor Tell conceived an idea to spread happiness in their lives as well as around them and turn the average sock into an affordable fashion statement capable of doing such.
Happy Socks was born.
Considered to be the pocket square for feet, Happy Socks has grown in popularity through thoughtful and creative designs, as well as carefully selected collaborative projects.
“Just like [with sneakers], you dress up your feet in these great colorways,” says United Legwear & Underwear Co. Vice President of Licensing & Marketing, Rita O’Brien.
United Legwear & Underwear Co. is a premium legwear and underwear sales, marketing and distribution company located in New York. With the foundation and primary focus of their business on legwear, ULC maintains over 13 brand licenses across legwear and underwear from infants through adult products.
ULC works hand-in-hand with Happy Socks to make sure the perception and brand philosophies are carried out the way they were meant to be.
Happy Socks silhouettes can be enjoyed by men and women as the styles are unisex. There are also children sizes to keep the little ones in similar fashion.
From celebrities like Zac Efron to athletes like New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, the socks have become a favorite and embraced by many. Even other brands have begun to try and duplicate the model since the interest in foot coverings is now at its highest.
“Part of it is the brilliance of the name and the message that it conveys,” says O’Brien. “I think that there are a lot of manufacturers in the marketplace that are putting emphasis on color and pattern the way Happy Socks does. But honestly, I think that it’s a feel-good brand and I think a lot of it, truthfully, is conveyed by the name itself. It’s fun to say, they’re fun to look at. Every decision that the creative director makes about the branding and marketing points to happiness, fun and cool. I think that all of those things from the kind of celebrities that have embraced and endorsed us to the color palettes they select and the way they combine certain patterns, that I honestly believe — if you put out a Happy Sock compared to [some other brand] — I really think that you would know the difference.”
Enhancing their visibility has been collaborative projects with such brands as Keds, Be@rbrick and even the sandbox indie game, Minecraft.
Switching from yearly to seasonal releases, there are two collaborative projects done per year: one for the holidays and one during one of the seasons. Collaborative projects are carefully chosen by Söderlindh and Tell. Keeping to their core value of inspiring happiness, each collaboration stays in line with that philosophy.
“They believe if you oversaturate the market with collaborative product, nobody cares and people stop paying attention,” says O’Brien. “It’s like ‘Ok, here comes another collab.’ What they’ll generally try to do is [partner] with someone who flies a little bit under the radar. There’s got to be that cool factor. It has to be someone who’s associated with very cool style. It could be an artist, singer, etc.
“This year, the Christmas collab is with an Indian designer called Manish Arora. He was the creative director of Paco Rabanne for a number of years. The socks have a very Indian influence to their style. They’re bright, pop colors. He’s got a cool factor and a cult following of celebrity women whose clothing he designed. So it’s very fashion-insidery. That keeps the cool factor.”
With competitors emulating their bold colors and design patterns, the Swedish brand promises some exciting things in the future to continue leading the lane it had a big part in paving.
Chris Cason covers the Chicago Bulls for Examiner.com and contributes to CSNChicago.com