Novelty Socks Guide

A Brief History of Novelty Socks

How Our Focus Shifted to Novelty Socks

History of Novelty Socks

A Different Approach to Novelty Socks

We weren’t always the biggest fans of novelty socks. In fact, years ago, we didn’t carry any novelty socks in fear of discounting or discrediting the originality, quality and style of our patterned socks. We’d grown to love the sophistication and style of a thoughtful pattern, artistically crafted with coordinated colors and a trendy design, and found a niche retailing fun patterned socks online.

Patterned socks were a trend, and we were in the center of the trend; so why change?

The truth is, we started to see an innovative approach to novelty socks.

When we began selling fun socks in 2011, novelty sock styles looked very different. On one end of the spectrum, you had the overpriced “premium” dress socks, made up of mostly nylon in muted colors and designs that appealed to an aging demographic, and on the other end of the spectrum, you had cheap novelty socks with incompatible colors and unimaginative designs. It was extraordinarily difficult to find alternatives, somewhere in the middle. We’d walk shows in major cities looking for the same sophistication and style we’d come to expect in patterned socks and often would find polar opposites at booths: one selling $25 chintzy nylon designs and the other selling $4 Hello Kitty socks. We’d often leave the shows uninspired and empty handed.

But every once in a while, we’d see a diamond in the rough. A small brand that would catch our attention with a thoughtful design.

So, we made the decision, if we were going to sell novelty socks, we needed a new plan. We needed to create our own novelty socks with fun, thoughtful designs.

Our first designs were nothing fancy: bikes, planes, coffee cups and mustaches. We hoped to discover whether people truly love novelty as much as patterns. The result? We sold out of them all. We brought them back in, this time with more color variations and a few different design ideas like bulldogs on skateboards and coding socks. The result? You guessed it: we sold out of the new designs as well. We continued this trend with our novelty collection and started to build up a large selection of staple novelty items to complement our patterned socks.

By the time 2017 hit, we started to see a new trend emerge. Manufacturers, eager to enter the fun sock market, started creating novelty socks, in bulk. Most of the designs looked like a combination of children’s art mixed with stock icons. It started to look like a novelty gift shop with low quality socks overflowing the shelves and we wanted no part of it.

We knew we needed to alter our approach a bit. We knew we needed to leverage the advancements in sock technology and treat the sock like a piece of art.

Example of airplane novelty socks from boldSOCKS.com

Example of original airplane novelty socks from boldSOCKS.com

Novelty Socks as Art

Knit socks are typically limited to six colors and often less depending on the complexity of the pattern. That means that a design needs to be thoughtfully planned and articulated to create the best possible appearance. Add to that the nuances and small variances in dyed yarns and limitations based on needle counts and it takes quite the craft to design a high quality, unique novelty sock.

We coined the phrase “socks as art” and made it a guiding principle to treat every design like an empty canvas.

The goal was to use every square inch and combine analogous or complementary colors to create a stunning design. Instead of icons stitched as a repeating pattern throughout the sock, we set out to create dimension with shadows and highlights and create scenes that stretched from the toe to the cuff.

The result? Take a look at this kayaking sock. We wanted to use shades of red and yellow so we thought through a scene that would allow the subtle currents on the water to match the bright sun in the background while creating dimension in the mountains with shadows and highlights. Then, the scene all comes together with the kayaker positioned in the middle of the water to create contrast and an obvious silhouette. The scene looks like the paddler is catching the sunset at the golden hour.

We have tons of socks, just like the kayaking sock, that thoughtfully and tastefully treat the socks as art. So which ones are our favorites? See our best novelty socks.

Example of kayaking novelty socks from boldSOCKS.com

Example of kayaking novelty socks from boldSOCKS.com