Have clients looking for a unique way to stand out with apparel? Try statement socks.
When the five living U.S. presidents recently gathered in Dallas to dedicate the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, they and the crowd were in for a little surprise. As 90-year-old George H.W. Bush entered the ceremony in a wheelchair, he certainly made a statement with a pair of bright pink socks peeking out from under his tailored trousers, giving his otherwise demure suit and tie combination a touch of whimsy.
Statement socks have become a new accessory in their own right for both men and women. They come in countless colors, patterns and messages, and fit right in at the office or the soccer field. Vapor Apparel (asi/93396), which specializes in sublimation imprintables, has capitalized on the trend with a variety of options available with full-color dye sublimation.
“We see the custom sock market in three main segments,” says Chris Bernat, partner and chief revenue officer. “There are longer-length customized promotional socks, which tend to come up over the calf and are big for holidays, such as St. Patrick’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Then, there are custom athletic socks, driven by team and sneaker color combinations. Finally, there’s the logoed sock for official branding. It’s a natural extension for companies that are already sublimating, but it requires great color and consistency in the production process.”
While Vapor Apparel sublimates on 100% polyester for the best color vibrancy, cotton is the most popular fabric for customers looking for a basic style, says Charles Badgett, owner and president of Sports Solutions Inc. (asi/88876). “Customers want good quality and availability in many colors, and cotton allows us to fulfill that need,” he explains. “Meanwhile, when customers need a more performance-oriented sock, we use wicking polyester as the technical body yarn. It provides excellent comfort and feel.”
In addition to sublimation, the knit-in or jacquard, logo technique remains one of the most popular embellishment methods for socks. “Our knit-in method allows customers to request color changes within the sock, beyond just changing it from white to another color,” says Badgett. “Additionally, customers are knitting more patterns throughout the sock. Meanwhile, with sublimation, you can print just about anything you want. We’ve seen everything from a piece of pizza to amazing colorful splashes.”
Bernat has seen momentum continue to build for sublimated socks and doesn’t foresee the trend weakening any time soon. “Statement socks are in many ways the ‘casual workplace tie,’ and we see them doing well in specialty retailers, team sports and apparel brands that want to capture new market share,” he says. “The markets are endless, just as they are for custom printing in general.”