One of the least expensive ways to upgrade a man’s wardrobe is to buy new socks. Men’s socks are relatively inexpensive and one of the few outlets for a man to add color and express some personality. To follow is a guide for where to buy colorful and unique men’s socks online from an amazing crop of menswear entrepreneurs and e-commerce pioneers, updated for 2019.
Wild socks may make the tech entrepreneur, but demand for colorful options is soaring beyond the digital creative class.
“The power sock can make the biggest difference in an ensemble, and can say a lot about you and your sense of style,” says Tina Israni, founder of online sock emporium Zoraab.com, who started her company “to provide an alternative to the bland sock lifestyle that is all too common today.” Colorful socks can be worn with made-to-measure suits, business casual, and even dressy leather sneakers for men.
While Swedish-born Happy Socks are amazing — and nearly ubiquitous these days in major department and outlet chains like DSW, Century 21 and Nordstrom Rack — a host of entrepreneurs are putting out impressive alternatives.
The colorful sock options below make great gifts for men and help to support small businesses and innovative ventures. If you’re looking to give a gift, look to the options below, which enable you to tell the recipient about the great company you discovered, where it was manufactured and why you were excited about buying it.
It is hard to overstate how much I love Unsimply Stitched’s socks. Los Angeles-based Unsimply Stitched was founded in the early days of 2011 by Alex Hendeles “with the hope of being able to support the growth of the ever expanding sock revolution” and providing men with “a large range of design and colors on a constant basis.” Hendeles’ socks, a blend of combed cotton, elastane and polyamide fibers, are super-soft and feature a wide range of unique and colorful patterns like plaids, polka-dots, stripes, windowpanes and zig-zags. Israni of Zoraab.com notes that Unsimply Stitched is among her shop’s three top-selling brands. These socks are comfortable, thin enough to be worn with dress shoes, durable enough to stand up to life, and spectactular. Hendeles’ focus on design development means I am always looking forward to the next season’s release.
Happy Socks’ brand seems so ubiquitous these days that it’s hard to believe the brand only began in 2008. Founded by graphic designer Viktor Tell and advertising executive Mikael Söderlindh, Happy Socks began cranking out colorful power socks before it was a thing. The company leveraged global relationships and local distributors to spread the word and sell quality, often whimsical socks for men (and women and kids).
Randy Goldberg and David Heath founded Bombas Socks in 2013 with a mission to help deliver socks to homeless shelters. Many shelters do not accept donations of socks (and most thankfully don’t accept used socks. Yuck.) The founders have built an impressive company, becoming ceritified as a B-corporation that meets certain sustainability and transparency standards and has given more than 25 million pairs of socks to homeless shelters. They’ve done this all while constructing really comfortable and eye-catching socks for men and women that are available on Bombas’ website and via a host of retailers including Nordstrom and Dick’s Sporting Goods.
I love the look of Sock Fancy, a sock subscription startup launched in 2013 by childhood friends Futhum Tewolde and Stefan Lewinger, who were frustrated by expensive socks that didn’t last. The two moved to Atlanta, became roommates, conceived of the business and started shipping from their living room ping pong table. They exchanged their ping pong table for a 5,000-sq. ft. warehouse and office in Cabbagetown, and, to date, have sold half-a-million socks to over 85 countries. Besides eminently clickable headers (“rock out with your sock out,” “separate yourself from the pack”), their 70% combed cotton, 200 needle socks are unique and super-colorful.
Since DC-based entrepreneur Brad Christmann launched on Kickstarter and rapidly surpassed its funding goal in 2014, Boldfoot Socks has taken off with a funky line of American-made socks. Brad designs the socks himself (“I’m by no means a professional designer, but I know enough to be dangerous”) and donates 5 percent of profits to vets in need. He told Modern Fellows that, “There’s a 1.7x multiplier when someone buys USA-made, meaning for every $100 spent on USA-made goods, $170 is re-invested in the U.S. economy…I’d be quite proud if I could inspire even a few thousand Americans to purchase more USA-made products.” Read more: DC-Based Boldfoot Socks Launches Via Kickstarter.
Photo courtesy Boldfoot Socks
Goodthreads by Amazon
Amazon has been expanding its selection of menswear labels, and its centerpiece is the Goodthreads brand of clothing and accessories. Goodthreads offers a small selection of really attractive socks constructed of 80% Cotton, 19% Nylon and 1% Spandex for an unbelievably affordable price point.
School of Sock / Sock 101
Kansas City, Missouri-based School of Sock (formerly known as Sock 101) is one of the most affordable colorful socks men can buy. The socks are made of a cotton, spandex and nylon blend, are relatively thin and comfortable for all day wear. The founders hit a nice balance of color, comfort, and affordability, with an emphasis on simple patterns that are different without being too daring, and have caught the eye of sock fans including former President George H. W. Bush as well as Project Runway Fashion/Startup.
A small boutique retailer based out of Miami, Florida, Modern Motif Sock Co specializes in Men’s power socks, whose motto is “Be bold, be unique.” I love the playful, yet still tasteful, patterns (including mustaches and rubber duckies) and color combinations. These are unique socks that can pull double duty at the office and bar. Modern Motif also offers a range of other menswear accessories including neckties and cufflinks. Discover Modern Motif’s socks at Amazon or via the company’s website.
Mack Weldon produces a full range of “men’s basics” — undershirts, briefs and trunks as well as socks. Manufactured in WRAP-certified facilities in China and Thailand, their socks come in a series of clean-looking solids, stripes and dots. They featured a cushioned footbed, extended crew length and a blend of cotton/spandex that is engineered to recover and hold its shape throughout the day, and which make Mack Weldon’s socks among the heaviest Modern Fellows has reviewed.
Shop via the Mack Weldon website.
Photo courtesy Mack Weldon
Sergey Sapelnyk and Filip Pejic founded Society Socks in 2015 after meeting at the University of Toronto. Their company sells a range of colorful, soft socks made of a blend of 70% combed cotton, 28% nylon and 2% spandex, via a monthly subscription model. (You can also purchase individual pairs online.) For each pair sold, Society Socks will donate an additional pair to someone in need. Socks (along with underwear) are some of the least donated but most needed items of clothing — since most donation centers won’t accept them used. Axio’s Steve Levine penned a nice write up, the politics and charity of flashy socks, featuring Society Socks.
Founded by former LivingSocial coworkers, Nice Laundry’s socks have a pretty incredible combination of looks, comfort, fit and durability. Colors are bright and well-balanced, the cotton blend socks are medium weight, and the socks stay up around mid-calf all day. Read more: Getting to know Nice Laundry and their Exceptionally Nice Socks.
Shop: Buy packs and sock subscriptions via the Nice Laundry Website.
No Cold Feet
In 2016, Matt had a problem. He was getting married and tried to find a shop that specialized in colorful, fun socks for wedding parties. He couldn’t find a brand focused on weddings, so he and his new wife Mari decided to start his own. No Cold Feet was founded to enable grooms and their brides to find fun, colorful, quality socks for their big day. Happily, Mari and Matt have designed a range of very appealing socks that work just as well for everyday occasions, made from 80% high-quality combed cotton blend with 15% nylon polymide and a little (5%) spandex for stretch. We love their thin purple striped socks in particular.
Photo courtesy No Cold Feet.
Tie Your Socks
Tie Your Socks makes gloriously comfortable socks. Their bright and quirky designs stand out, and the company donates one pair of socks for every purchase to a community organization that train and cloth people in need.
Argoz makes beautiful, comfortable socks. Founded by San Francisco-based entrepreneur Dan Soha, Argoz socks are made of a combination of cotton, spandex and nylon and spandex. They’re super soft and stay up all day long, and their argyle patterns are particularly attractive. Some are made in the United States.
Fort Payne, Alabama-based manufacturer and retailer Zkano has come into its own with an attractive lineup of crew, over-the-calf and ankle socks for men. Founder Gina Locklear has developed an organic, low-impact dye, Made-in-America line of really comfortable socks. Read more: Bucking the Trend, Zkano’s Gina Locklear Carves Out an Organic Niche for Alabama Socks
Shop: At Zkano.com
Nab a pair of great men’s socks with a cause from Guatemalan entrepreneur Antonio Prahl from London-based micro-ecommerce platform Inclusive Trade. As we note in our review of Prahl’s socks, his “designs are fun and funky, using bright color patterns, unusual shapes and, in some cases, contrasting patterns to add interest to a man’s outfit,” while “the fiber content is a solid combination of combed cotton, polyester, spandex and rubber, which sill feels super-soft and stays comfortably-up on your leg after multiple washings.”
Founded by entrepreneur Kevin Wohlman, Southern Scholar occupies a unique niche in the world of men’s dress socks with a unique fabric blend, a focus on colorful-yet-office-appropriate colors and patterns and a fantastic fit that doesn’t slouch. Their subscription model makes a great gift for men: Gift-givers can choose to prepay for a 6 or 12 month subscription or customers can be billed on a month-to-month basis.
Alex Goodman founded Franklin Morrow out of Columbus, Ohio to make colorful-yet-professional socks while giving back to the community. For every pair of socks you buy, they donate a pair to someone in need. Their socks are a blend of combed cotton, nylon and elastine and come in fun patterns.
He wrote that he started the company “because we love socks and we love people,” adding that others “are overcharging for designs that are just plain unprofessional, and why should you be limited in your options for accessories?”
Ridiculously-cheap, good-looking multipack socks that are made from a combed cotton blend in Portugal. Shop: Easton Marlowe on Amazon
“Born out of a frustrated attempt to find a pair of fish-themed socks for a Father’s Day gift,” Soxfords was bootstrapped by a husband and wife team in 2013. Soxfords’ niche is to “bridge the gap between novelty and dress in men’s socks,” which it does through quirky and mostly-subtle patterns from lobsters to officially-licensed Space Invaders. Manufactured in Colombia, the socks are made from a premium blend of Peruvian Pima cotton yarn, using a double woven thread — that means twice as much yarn per square inch — for extra durability. Soxfords has upgraded its style quite a bit from their first batch of socks nearly 5 years ago.
Upscale e-commerce destination East Dane is an excellent one-stop shop for a variety of socks. The site is particularly strong on European options like Badelaine Paris (Made in France), Paul Smith (Made in the UK), and Etiquette (Made in Italy), as well as Mr. Gray socks (Made in Japan).
In 2011, Fred and Harrison Rich founded Dapper Classics to develop classic, over-the-calf socks. The duo’s socks are light, breathable and long. As we wrote in an earlier review, “these are socks you feel. They are noticeably there on your legs.” These socks — made either of a cotton-nylon blend or merino wool — are manufactured in North Carolina. These are an amazing alternative to higher-priced imported socks from the likes of Pantherella or Marcoliani.
Shop: the Dapper Classics website.
Charlotte, North Carolina-based Boardroom Socks is another great option for over-the-calf socks. “We manufacture each pair of socks locally in North Carolina,” President Nathan Jones told me, “and we are committed to supporting our state’s textile traditions.” The family-owned copmany makes several kinds of socks, including long, over-the-calf socks, as well as more modern mid-calf socks. Their over-the-calf socks are made of a soft and comfortable 67% Merino Wool, 30% Nylon and 3% Spandex blend.
Hook + Albert
Launched by Adam Schoenberg and Cory Rosenberg to cater to “an over saturated, yet underserved” market, New York-based hook + ALBERT offers a variety of mostly cotton blend socks that emphasize pastels and unique designs. Manufactured in Peru, the socks are a blend of pima cotton, nylon and spandex. Their textured, open weave is exceptionally light and proved highly-breathable in oppressively hot conditions, though the socks tend to bunch a bit around the ankles. Rising above mid-calf, hook + ALBERT’s socks are closer to a traditional dress sock than many of the other options here.
Founded by textile industry veterans Luís Campos and Vanessa Marques in 2016 in Portugal, WestMister uses high-quality, mercerised cotton lisle produced through 200 needles machines and features hand-linked toes. These made-in-Portugal socks get free shipping worldwide with a purchase of 75 euros or more (about USD$85 as of this writing).
Established in 2012 in Austin, Texas, Sock Club’s founders Noah and Dane focuses on American-made socks. All of the company’s socks are designed in Austin and constructed with cotton grown and knit in the Southeastern United States. Sock Club partners with American factories to ensure control of the entire design and manufacturing processes. Their classic, colorful patterns look amazing. Sock Club offers monthly sock subscriptions — a great gift — as well as multi-packs that can be ordered via their website. As of this writing, Sock Club offered a “mystery pack” of 6 socks that costs just $9 per pair. Use coupon code WELCOME to add a free month of socks to your subscription.
Men’s footwear buyer Ray Willmoth moved to Melbourne, Australia from London, where he worked for nearly 10 years, to develop an attractive down-under line of socks. Named after the street in London where he lived, the socks are bright and lively.
Shop: From the Australia-based Fortis Green website.
OW Socks / Office Wiederholt
Update: As of 2019, the Office Widerholt website doesn’t appear to be working. Sven Wiederholt, founder of Office Wiederholt, started making socks that “use interesting materials [and] have cutting edge designs” after coming across many quality, affordable pairs in Japan. “I always liked socks as a child, but could not find many styles for men in America,” Wiederholt told Modern Fellows in 2013. His response was to start designing in-your-face yet attractive socks, which OW manufactures in Japan and sells in America directly via its website and through retailers like Gilt, Stag, and Wittmore. OW Socks are made from a cotton, polyester and polyurethane blend that results in a medium-weight sock which feels luxurious and is comfortable all day under a dress or casual shoe. Wiederholt’s socks, which retail for about $24, rise only to the lower calf but stay up remarkably well, enabling them to be worn with a suit without worrying about showing some skin (at least for this reviewer). While they are on the shorter end of the spectrum, OW’s balance of bright colors, interesting designs, all-day comfort and construction make them a particularly well-rounded power sock.
Update: As of 2019, the DapperGanger website website doesn’t appear to be working. DapperGanger maked bright, eye-catching socks out of 78% Cotton, 20% Polyamide, 2% Spandex, and sold them online in multipacks. The brand gets overwhelmingly glowing reviews on Amazon.
About JakeJake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.
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