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The History of Socks

Posted on 31 August 2016

Socks! We love them. We need them. But have you ever wondered why were they invented in the first place? How have they evolved since then? Keep reading to find out!

When were socks invented?

There isn’t one set recorded date of when the first sock was created but instances of sock-like things are found throughout ancient history. The Ancient Greek used to wrap their feet with matted animal furs and Romans used to wrap their feet in thick fabric or wear sock-like things made of leather to protect their feet and keep them warm and dry.

Some of the earliest socks were toe socks so people could wear socks with sandals. Fashion faux pas, or nah? 

At the time, socks were a thing of necessity, not a fashion statement. As time went on, increasingly advanced knitting methods made it easier to bind the socks.

How have socks evolved?

As I mentioned earlier, the main reason for creating socks was for protection, warmth, and to keep feet nice and dry to avoid infection. However, by the 11th century, socks became more than just protection; they became status symbols, a symbol of wealth and prestige. Because it wasn’t easy to knit socks and because the method for knitting socks was a guild secret back then, only the wealthy could afford to buy socks.

King Henry VII in 15th century rocking some fancy knee-highs. 

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The poor, however, continued using the methods Ancient Greek and Roman people used to keep their feet safe and dry. Back then, people used to wrap some cloth around their legs and use garters to hold them up. Around the same time, men had their socks and pants sewn together because fashion, obviously. A few hundred years later, printed socks of varying length became a big part of fashion.

An example of knitted socks from around the 11th century. Possibly made in Egypt.

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Unfortunately, they weren’t able to experience Mooshwalks back then. Bummer. In the 16th century, the invention of the loom made it easier to knit socks, making socks more readily available. Although, it wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that mass production of socks began. Since then, socks of varying length, style, color, pattern, and so on, have been increasing in popularity. So much so that there are specific stores that are just wall-to-wall socks! How amazing is that? It’s incredible to see the evolution of socks from being a necessity to being an accessory.

When were Knee High socks invented?

There are things similar to knee-high socks that can be found in ancient history too, surprisingly enough. Ancient Romans used to wrap a piece of cloth around their feet and calves and use leather straps to hold them up. They did this more for warmth than protection; little did they know they would spark a fashion trend. Knee-highs were on and off the scene since then but made a big comeback in the 1920s. However, they didn’t really become a pinnacle part of fashion until the 1960s and has been growing in popularity ever since.

An example of early knee socks from around the 17th.

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Fast forward to now, a day and age where a lot of people use socks to express their identity. We live in a time where socks are an important part of fashion for people of all ages, genders, races, etc. Because of this, the sock business is on the rise! There are brands, like Stance Socks, that cater to fashionable men and to sneakerheads.

Black Air Force 1's Mids and Tokyo Stance Socks.

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And then, of course, there's Mooshwalks, the world's first pair of socks with ears/wings! Each pair of Mooshwalks has their own unique personality, their own story, even their own birthdays! 

Mooshwalks, socks with ears/wings, personalities, and stories.

Then there are Nike Elite Socks, one of the highest rated performance socks. They utilize compression for better blood flow and extra padding in key areas for impact protection, which are ideal features for athletes of every caliber.

Nike Hyper Elite Socks in a range of colors.

 

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How much of the history of socks did you know? What are your favorite kinds of socks? If you could design your own socks, what would they look like? Let us know in the comments below! 

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