What Do Built-In Socks Mean for the Legwear Industry?

In What's New, Industry News by Lauren Parker, Accessories Magazine

Sandals with built-in socks at 3.1 Phillip Lim’s SS18 show. FirstView

Sock booties, sock sandals and sock sneakers are a thing. A niche thing, but still a thing. But what kind of socks do you wear with them? And what will this mean for the sock and legwear industry at large? Obviously, boots are boots and often not worn with socks anyway, and women can slip liners inside, wear with hosiery or go bare-legged. But when boots become leggings and shoes become socks, that’s a missed sale for hosiery retailers.

Pierre Hardy sock bootie with suede sock

Balenciaga. FirstView

Gianvito Rossi

Sock manufacturers were nonplussed, however, pointing out the proliferation of socks worn with sandals, and how that boost would more than overtake any niche trend of built-in socks. “I don’t think it will impact the sock business overall,” says DML Marketing Group’s Mary Dabrowski-Scotti. “It’s a shoe trend, and not everyone is going to buy into it.”

Fenty x Puma SS18. FirstView

In fact, socks are on-trend on many runways from sporty to dressy.

“From my point of view as a follower of fashion and marketer, I’d say that the shower slide trend, which has continued to be strong for several seasons now, has put the sock front and center, because not all climates are right for slides and bare feet,” notes Rita Polidori O’Brien, VP Marketing & Communications of sock and accessories manufacturer Pro Player. “The sock/sandal pairing is also a solution for staying on-trend even if your pedicure needs a refresh.”

Valentino Resort 2018. FirstView

“I’ve also observed that for women, the continued growth of comfy sandals—particularly Birkenstock, a brand that’s doing everything right to attract the fashion set—has allowed fun socks to play a part in the re-discovery of comfort,” continues Polidori O’Brien. “Many women are tired of coping with shoes that hurt.”

Fendi SS18

Fendi’s Spring/Summer 18 line just walked down the runway, with socks in virtually every look. Clearly, the sock-with-sandals-or-heels trend isn’t going away any time soon.

Sports Socks

Sneakers were actually a front-runner of the built-in sock trend, looking at them stylistically and functionally.

Puma Fly Knit

PUMA’s Clyde Sock Sneakers

Confusion abounds at the sport level, where built-in socks have been popular for a few years. In fact, there are forums where consumers discuss whether they are supposed to wear socks with such sneakers, and if not, how do they wash them?

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