Custom Socks Guide
Your Pathway to the Best Custom Socks
A Brief History of Fun Socks
To say we are a pioneer of fun socks is a bit of a bold statement knowing the origin of fun socks, but boldSOCKS was certainly one of the first online retailers selling exclusively fun, colorful socks. In 2011, we launched boldSOCKS.com wanting to provide a curated experience of the best socks by the best brands, period. We held quality in design, comfort and durability as the defining characteristics of the socks we carried and spent hours and hours scouring the web and trade shows to find brands that perfectly aligned with our vision. We built a niche offering that we were thrilled to provide to our customers.
Over time, the site grew and with it, the amount of customers searching for fun socks. Soon, around 2014 and 2015, GQ, Esquire and every other men’s fashion magazine were writing pieces on the arrival of colorful dress socks and patterns. Fun dress socks were no longer the statement, unique piece of a wardrobe they once were; colorful socks were becoming the norm! The mainstream market picked up on the trend and soon new retailers were popping up everywhere along with the big department stores looking to cash in. It looked a lot less like the niche we once knew. Individuality was harder and harder to define as every retailer seemed to offer similar lower quality products. It was a challenge we were determined to face head on.
Around the same time, we started manufacturing our own socks with two brands: Statement Sockwear and boldSOCKS. The decision seemed like the right path forward: offer completely unique, high-end, ethically manufactured socks that use the highest quality components like combed cotton. The hopes to differentiate ourselves with a better sock were partially realized, but we wanted to take it a step further by adding a social impact piece. Dirty water is one of the biggest crises of our time and providing clean water helps, on average, create a sevenfold return on investment. We finalized an agreement with a local organization in town, 20 Liters, that helps us provide 100 days of clean water with every purchase and the model was soon up and running. Customers gravitated to the new, unique designs and soon we found ourselves as both a retailer and a brand with a large offering.
We continue to try to differentiate ourselves from the mainstream market. Although we are excited to see so many people wearing fun socks now, it is discouraging hearing stories about bad experiences with the low-cost alternatives. Colorful socks should be a bright part of your day that express your creativity and personality. When a sock fails and leaves a hole or feels uncomfortable because cheap synthetic materials were used, it can dampen the entire experience and purpose of those fun socks. For this reason, we formulated our bold approach in 2019 to ensure our brand partners aligned closely with our ideals of quality, ethics and impact. We figured, we ought to spotlight and carry only the best brands that want to create the best products while also making a positive impact in the world.
Our Journey to Custom Socks
The landscape of fun socks continues to evolve each year as new products, technology and brands enter the scene. Perhaps one of the biggest shifts we’ve noticed is the demand for custom socks.
The chart above shows the growth of custom sock searches since 2004 and when boldSOCKS entered the market. We started offering customization options for socks in 2017 with custom dates, text and monogram socks. We found new technology that allows us to print directly on to the socks. It is an innovative alternative to embroidery which tends to be a bit more rigid and uncomfortable. With custom print, we can add colors deep into the fibers of the socks that don’t wash away. Beyond text, we found ways to add logos, pictures and other fun designs that made our socks completely unique to the individual buying the socks.
It was a bit of an ah-hah moment: commodity socks, mass produced and available everywhere make it harder and harder to express your individuality. Add in a custom print to an already unique design, exclusively available from boldSOCKS, and you have something no one else on the planet has.
In addition, we found ways to add in custom messaging with custom labels. Grooms were asking groomsmen to be in their wedding with personalized labels. Corporations were saying thank you with a quick message on the sleeve. We even have sock labels sending a good luck message for the first day at a new job.
Custom Logo Socks
It is no secret, custom socks are on the rise for people looking to be unique, but it is also on the rise for corporations as well.
According to Vend, socks are the top promotional product right now because they are the “most effective form of advertising due to [their] affordability and creative approach.” Custom socks outrank all other standard forms of advertising like online, print and broadcast advertising in effectiveness. It is a fun product that people actually wear, especially when done well.
The opportunities to create a custom sock as a promotional product are many and extend far beyond just a repeating logo. At boldSOCKS, we love exploring ideas with you. Either work with a designer on a fully custom project or use our sock customizer and try patterns like argyle, stripes, polka dots and more to incorporate with your logo or text.
The Different Types of Custom Socks
Socks come in all different shapes, materials and sizes, and brands are constantly trying to innovate the age old item to give it a fresh look and feel. Some of the advancements have set new standards for quality in socks while others have reduced costs and efficiencies. Not all advancements, however, benefit the end user. Acrylics, for example, have certain attributes that are better in some sock styles than others. Sublimation looks good when the sock is flat, but looks washed out and blurred when stretched out. It is important to understand the various types of custom socks to figure out the best fit for you or our organization.
It is our goal to help you along the way.
We are a one-stop-shop for custom socks. Whether you need a printed sock, knit sock or just a custom label, we have you covered. We’ve figured out the best ways to customize socks and can help you make sense of all the various types of custom socks.
What’s the Difference Between Knit Socks and Printed Socks?
There are two different types of custom socks available: custom knit socks and custom printed socks. Both follow a similar manufacturing process in that they are both knit on sock machines that create the silhouette (or style) of the sock. The key difference is that the custom knit sock will use colored yarns that are incorporated and engineered into the manufacturing process while printed socks are typically white (or white with some black) and are often made with polyester so that the socks can absorb inks better, later.
In other words, custom knit socks need a lot more upfront work because each sock needs to be specifically designed and engineered to be manufactured on the sock machine (that means changing yarns, design files, and additional testing for each individual design). Printed socks are run in mass during the manufacturing process with little to no upfront work or changing of yarns in the machines, but are customized later using a printer.
Custom Knit - Dress Socks
Custom knit dress socks are one of the most popular custom sock options because the sock offers an integrated, seamless look and feel. Instead of printing on the sock, a custom knit design is woven into the pattern. Whether you are adding a logo, text or just creating a unique pattern, each design element is thoughtfully placed and then engineered to fit within the standard constraints of the machine manufacturing the dress socks. Yarns are pulled from the top of the machine and each time a color changes in a horizontal row, the yarn is cut and a new yarn starts. It is quite a beautiful artform. Each row is 168 stitches so when you think about the potential complexities of a sock design, it is like having 168 pixels wide to work with on your canvas.
Within the custom knit space, we offer three different options to help you create the perfect dress sock.
The first option is a custom patterned sock. Take one of our top patterns and integrate your colors or a custom design element to give your socks a sophisticated look, without trying to recreate the wheel. Think of it as our template option. Add a logo, phrase or just something witty into designs like argyle, polka dot, stipes, beeline and more.
The second option is to create a custom logo sock. Take a single background color and add your logo to repeat throughout the sock. It is a simple, effective marketing tool that can create a lasting impression that will remind prospective leads, customers, and employees about your organization or company.
The third option is a completely customized sock. We try to help simplify the process with fun, unique templates, but certainly understand that sometimes out-of-the-box ideas create out-of-the-box results. For this reason, we provide access to designers to help build on your idea and make sure it translates well into a custom sock design. We’ve been designing our own socks for a long time and are excited to work with you on your custom sock idea.
Custom Knit - Athletic Socks
Custom athletic socks are a great way to unify a team. Whether you are looking to match socks in a co-ed rec league or a professional sports team, we pair 20 years of custom athletic sock technology with fun, creative patterns and colors. Basketball teams can pick from popular team colors and add an element of design with patterns like elites, tiger scratches, athletic stripes and more. Or, if you need something sport specific, our design team can help create great custom socks for volleyball, soccer, baseball or golf.
Printed Socks - Personalized Socks
Custom print socks are a quick, easy alternative to a custom knit sock. With the latest technology and printers, colorful knit socks can be customized or personalized further at an individual level. By adding inks into the fibers of the sock, you get a clean, sophisticated look with the personalization you desire. We use a state-of-the-art printer that requires a pre-treat to absorb the inks and a heat press to trap the inks and prevent the inks from bleeding or smearing. It is a great idea for weddings, anniversaries, birthdays or any other special event that you want to add a little extra sentiment or meaning to an already existing style.
The three types of personalizations we offer are monogrammed socks, personalized text socks or socks with a date emblem.
Our monogrammed socks are one of our most popular personalization options. We see it used for families and weddings that want to make each sock or groomsmen gift unique. Imagine a group of 10 of your closest friends and family members lining up for a photo with coordinated socks that each have a monogram printed on the leg. We print one monogram on each sock, but each print faces out so that when you put on the socks the monograms are either on the outside of each ankle or the front of the socks, depending on what works best with the design. To create a monogram sock, choose from any of our customizable socks or kits and on the product page click “Show Customizations and Options.” You can then add a monogram by selecting “Monogram” from the dropdown and clicking the green plus icon.
The personalized text is also a great option for a thoughtful gift or wedding idea. Consider adding a hashtag, name or wedding role (i.e. groom, groomsmen, usher, ring bearer and/or father-of-the bride) to one of our great argyle socks, polka dot socks, mustache socks or novelty socks. It is a great way to bring an entire group together, and we even offer this personalization in kits so you can put each personalized sock in a gift bag. To create a personalized text sock, choose from any of our customizable socks or kits and on the product page click “Show Customizations and Options.” You can then select “Text” from the dropdown and click the green plus icon.
The final personalization option is a date emblem. With cotton being the gift for 2nd anniversaries and socks being an important detail for most weddings, we created a fun gift option that commemorates important dates in your life. If it’s not a wedding, it could be a graduation, important date in a relationship, a tribute or a way to pay respect to someone you’ve lost. You choose the date and we’ll help make the socks extra special. To create a personalized date sock, choose from any of our customizable socks or kits and on the product page click “Show Customizations and Options.” You can then select “Date” from the dropdown and click the green plus icon.
We’d love to hear from you if you have any other great ideas you’d like to see printed on to one of our socks. Contact us at email@example.com to submit your ideas and we’ll see if we can help you out.
Printed Socks - Photo Socks
Photo socks exploded into the custom sock world with the innovations in sublimation. Historically, few options existed to fully customize a sock, but as technology expanded in inks, socks transformed beyond the limitations of a knit sock or embroidered sock. White socks were soon being customized into everything from boxes of cereal to iconic posters and works of art. Then, the rotary printers arrived and with it, new technology that could print an entire sock. The limitations of sublimation were solved with rotary printers that could print clean crisp graphics that actually absorbed into the fibers of the socks (instead of just the top layers). We jumped on the new technology and now offer different types of photo socks like custom face socks, custom dog socks, custom cat socks and custom holiday socks.
Custom face socks, one of the more popular photo options, offer a fun, over-the-top way to show someone you care about them. Send us a picture and we’ll cut out the background, make necessary lighting adjustments and add it to any type of background. For something simple, add a face to a solid color background or for something a bit more personal, add a face to a work of art, caricature or unique background. We have lots of different options and are adding more to the mix all the time. Looking for something specific? Don’t hesitate to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org to submit an idea.
Custom dog socks and custom cat socks are a fun way to bring your pet with you everywhere you go. We know pets are like family and having a friendly cat or dog face show up in a meeting or at the water cooler can be a great conversation starter to go on and on about your fluffy-faced dog or cat. Like custom face socks, you send us a picture and we do all the work to cut out the background and put it into one of our great templates. Custom cat and dog socks are a great birthday present or holiday gift for pet lovers.
Custom holiday socks combine the best of custom face socks and custom pet socks and put them in themed holiday outfits and scenes. We have custom dancing elf socks for Christmas, custom Cupid socks for Valentine’s Day, custom leprechaun socks for St. Patty’s Day and so much more. Check out all our custom print socks to inspire a bold, fun gift for any season.
Finding the Best Custom Socks
When it comes to finding the best custom socks, it is important to find a custom sock shop that closely aligns with your goals for the project. Price, lead times, yarn colors available, quality and service are all components of a custom sock project. Overlooking one or undervaluing another might completely change the outcome of the project and leave you disappointed with the results.
For example, if you value price, you might start on Alibaba to find a manufacturer that makes custom socks. You find a style that is a close match to your company logo or corporate colors and reach out to ask about customizing the socks further. They respond to your initial request and you begin the process of sampling. From there, you start sending colors, logos and design tweaks, all without seeing anything more than a picture from the manufacturer. This goes on for weeks and finally they give you a date for samples. Perfect. You wait a couple more weeks for the socks to arrive and when they finally show up, they aren’t the right colors or the quality doesn’t seem great. Now, you are in a predicament, do you continue to work with the same manufacturer and try to revise the socks or do you find a new option, but with a tighter timeframe knowing your deadline is approaching quickly? Suddenly, price may not be your highest priority and it becomes more about service and lead times.
We share this example because it is all too common in our global market and without understanding the industry, it is easy to overvalue one component of your custom sock project. We’ve made the same mistakes and understand how easy it is to be lured by a lower price. In fact, we’ve seen many of our products that we’ve designed and photographed listed on Alibaba sites for a quarter of the price we pay to ethically manufacture our socks in Colombia and the USA.
At boldSOCKS, we believe price, lead times, yarn colors, quality and service are the pillars of a good custom project that all need to be working together in perfect harmony in order to get the best possible outcome. Now, certainly, it is important to understand your priorities and ranking each component is a good place to start, but leaving out even one could be a recipe for disaster.
Quality and Industry Experience
Customizing socks is a complex process. It takes an understanding of the supply chain, the yarns, the dyes, the machines and the design limitations to maximize the potential of a dress sock, athletic sock or printed sock. Experience, successes, failures, innovations and a little bit of luck have all helped us push the limits of fun socks. We want to help you push the limits of your own custom projects, and to do so, we realize we can be a great asset to seeing your vision come to life.
We see the process as a partnership: you have an idea and customer or client in mind and we have the industry experience and capabilities to customize a variety of different types of socks. We work closely together with you until the project is complete and we both get the satisfaction of knowing we’ve created a great pair of socks.
Beyond a strong partnership, you also need to dial in the right technical specifications. The different brands of machines, needle counts, cut patterns, yarn thicknesses and material blends all are important considerations when making-your-own sock design. We don’t expect you to know the right formula, so we do our very best to give you the best foundation to start from. With the right building blocks in place, we can put our time and effort into the fun part of the project: designing the socks.
We have unique industry experience in custom dress socks, custom athletic socks, personalized socks and photo socks, and are excited to work with you on your next project.
Customer Service and Trust
We could try to convince you that our customer service is the best and that you should trust us and our process, but the reality is, our word should only be part of the equation. We have a 4.9 rating on Google and A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau because we believe you deserve outstanding service. We are thankful and grateful for you and your business. You chose our site, in a sea of other sock retailers, and the best way we can say thank you is to deliver beyond expectations -- to go the extra mile. That’s why we’ve sent a personal note with every sock order since we started in 2011 and will continue to do so regardless of the size of our company.
We are certainly not the only custom sock company with a good reputation or that stands behind the quality of our custom socks and we can vouch for many of the custom sock manufacturers in America. We would caution you, however, to be careful working with companies that look too good to be true or that you can’t prove their legitimacy. We’ve been burned and want to make sure you find a great supplier, even if it is not us.
Design and Innovation
We pride ourselves on design. It was a lack of good designs that got us into this business and a lack of innovation that kept pushing us forward to launch our own brand, Statement Sockwear. We believe, fundamentally, the sock is a canvas. It is a work of art. If it isn’t treated as art, it is a missed opportunity to stand out from the crowd and the rest of the sock brands currently crowding the market.
Design should be one of your top priorities. We spent years developing this program and months developing our custom sock builder because we want you to create a sock that you are proud to wear. If you aren’t a designer, we provide templates for you that will make the process easier. If you have a crazy idea, we have designers that will help your idea come to life.
When building the best socks, innovation should also be an important consideration. Not all socks are manufactured or printed the same way so the machines, yarns and technology are all important components to the process. Technology continues to change, trends continue to evolve so our commitment to you is to try to sift through what will give you the absolute, best results.
Agility and Lead Times
Every custom project should have a defined lead time. If it isn’t urgent now, chances are, it will become an urgent project later. For that reason, working with a company that is both agile and structured is incredibly important.
Agility allows you to design and iterate during the early phases of the project. Being able to see the design of the socks and getting the design exactly where you need it to be requires all parties to efficiently work together. Collaborative iterations move the design closer and closer to its final version, so it is our commitment to you to try and get you these revisions back as quickly as possible until we have a final design.
Manufacturing, then, represents the structured part of the process. Once a design is final, the manufacturing team works closely with the design team to produce the socks. We strive to be efficient during this stage in the process, so once designs are final, the team focuses 100% on production, not design. Any revisions during manufacturing increases both lead times and costs.
For more information about our lead times, visit our Fast Custom Socks page.
Yarn Colors and Color Availability
Yarn colors and color availability should be one of your biggest considerations if you're looking to create a custom sock with specific colors and designs.
For our low-minimum knit socks, we have a variety of the most popular colors that can be supplemented with nylon colors to create a great mix of options for a custom sock. Think of it as you have a mix of primary colors, grays, blues, black and white that can be accented with other unique nylon colors to create unique dress sock.
For our higher minimums (400+), we have the capabilities to custom match any color you’d like.
Price is important and is often times the driver of most decisions, but price is determined by a variety of factors. Within the supply chain of socks, there is the raw cotton, spinning the raw cotton into yarn, dyeing the yarns, manufacturing the socks, shipping the socks and finally selling the socks. Each step along the way has a cost and efficiencies in one area or another can lead to cost savings, but so can cutting corners. We try to price our products fairly so that everyone receives a fair wage while also buying the highest quality materials.