The humble sock – they aren’t the first item in our wardrobe we give thought to and they have been taken for granted. However, they are an important part of a man’s clothing throughout history. The word sock comes from “socc”, which is old English and means “light slipper”. In turn, this derives from the Latin word “soccus”, which was used to describe a “light, low-heeled shoe”.
The sock evolution started as protection & warmth. Its first appearance in literature date back as early as 750-700 BC. Hesiod, during his life as a shepherd wrote poems. In his masterpiece “Days and Works”, he gave advice to his brother Persis how to protect himself from the cold. He suggested that he should wear sandals and under these “piloi” a cloth made of wool or animal hair to cover his feet. In the 2nd century AD Romans refer to socks. At that stage they were sewn from leather strips and woven fabric, pulled over their feet. However, the very first socks ever discovered are those from the Egyptians excavated from tombs. These date back to the 3rd-6th century AD. Socks, or “puttees” at that time and geography became more common in the 5th century AD when they were worn by holy people to symbolize purity. Around 1000 AD socks became a symbol of wealth.
About 500 years later, around 1490 and influenced by the Spanish, socks evolved into a piece of clothing to enhance personal style. Fabrics like wool, silk & velvet were adorned with embroidery and fine jewels. The invention of the knitting machine in 1589 by William Lee, the introduction of cotton in the late 17th century and the circular knitting frames, combined led to the mass production of socks making socks available to the wider public.
The roaring 20’s led to the introduction of the Argyle pattern & coloured socks as an accepted fashion piece for men. Then, nylon was introduced in 1938 which supported the technique to blend multiple yarns to create stronger and more durable socks. More recently, in 2011, the city Zhuji in Zhejiang Province, China has become “Sock City”. It produces 8 billion pairs of socks each year! About a third of the total world’s sock production.
The shape has not changed since 800 BC since the Barbarians started to wear socks. Only in 2013 when a group named Barnabarians started to wear socks with a button attached the sock changed evolution.
Take the first step into something new.
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