The most unlikely of accessories are having a moment.
By Clare CoulsonPublished: 8:00AM BST 05 Aug 2009
Rocking socks and sandals: Chloe Sevigny makes the usual fashion faux-pas cool at Coachella earlier this year. Photo: WIREIMAGE
Earlier this week Sock Shop, that Eighties mecca of zany coloured hosiery, announced rocketing, recession-defying sales.
Since being bought in 2006 by the Ruia family, who have been importing socks to the UK for 20 years, sales on the company’s website (it has been online for the past three years) have increased tenfold, and the firm has just opened its first store in Manchester. They plan to open 10 more over the next five years.
Socks – if you hadn’t already noticed – are now rather cool. Tabio, the Japanese sock emporium, has seven shops in London, and has just opened its first Paris store. In Japan, where socks have been a cult item for years — presumably because they are an integral part of the cute “kawaii” style that dominates Japanese trends — there are now 300 stores.
The socks-and-sandal combo, once a look associated with a generation of unstylish British males, has been one of summer’s flash trends here, too – on girls, at least.
Athletic socks, meanwhile, have been turned into a fashion staple – as seen on American Apparel’s website, where there are half-naked girls cavorting in striped knee-highs. (After all, this is the store whose founder, it was reported last week, has decided to sack any staff he deems not “hot” enough.)
So how did the sock come back into favour? Fashion-forward celebrities have been adopting the look: Chloë Sevigny was working ankle socks and granny sandals at the beginning of the summer at the Coachella festival, and Lindsay Lohan has been snapped in several sock-based looks. Meanwhile, Madonna’s scarily cool teenage daughter, Lourdes Ciccone Leon, is rarely seen without a sporty sock – although she hasn’t yet paired them with a heel.
But a good deal of blame for the accessory’s revived fortunes can be laid at Miuccia Prada’s door. The Italian fashion industry’s prima donna was championing the sock as part of her ironic geeky looks several seasons ago.
And the sock has become a catwalk staple elsewhere, too. Christopher Bailey accessorised his lovely dégradé coats and dresses at Burberry Prorsum this summer with patent shoes and ribbed ankle socks. At Marni, brightly coloured socks are routinely paired with chunky high heels – this autumn, look out for graphic-patterned knee-highs worn with platform sandals.
The new season will also bring what must be some of the most opulent socks ever created: Miu Miu’s knee-high ribbed socks, which are heavily encrusted with jewels, beads and sequins and come with matching satin shoes. They will retail for a staggering £245.
As if to prove that socks can be chic, Consuelo Castiglioni, designer at Marni and a woman in her 40s, appeared at the end of her show in one of her own black dresses, a chunky jewelled necklace, high platform heels and knee-high black socks. Despite all its teen-trendiness, the sock and shoe combination evidently works on grown-ups, too.
For more information about Tabio, just go ahead to http://tabio.com/uk/