Step into Christmas with a little help from Socko: creators, and purveyors of sustainable socks and fellow members of the East End Trades Guild. Forget stereotypical tales of forlorn hosiery found at the bottom of your stocking, Socko’s jewel-tone wares are the perfect present for conscious consumers, designed, sourced and made in the UK from post-consumer materials… Now that’s pretty, pretty, pretty good going! We just had to hear more and so slipped on our preferred pattern (The Amstrad because we’re fancy like that) and settled down for a chat with Socko’s main pair: Emma and Alan, the wire-haired dachshund. Ruff!
CAN YOU SUM UP WHAT YOU DO IN FIVE WORDS?
Sustainable socks made in England.
FROM PODCASTS TO PLAYLISTS, WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
I’m a massive creature of habit when it comes to playlists. This has been my go-to in the studio this year: Em 2019 but I also binge my way through podcasts. From Ctrl Alt Delete to hear from fentrepreneurs, to Caliphate and Who the Hell is Hamish for intrigue, to Dear Joan and Jericha for awkward lols. Finally, I’ll stick Radio 4 on. Woman’s Hour is consistently brilliant.
DARN IT! SUSTAINABILITY IS AT THE FOREFRONT OF SOCKO’S MESSAGING BUT WHAT WAS IT THAT LED YOU TO EMBRACE VISIBLE MENDING AND CONSCIOUS CONSUMPTION?
What a great question! It actually came about through a discussion with WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) when I was still in the very early stages of planning. I wanted to get a sense of what the most sustainable fibers would be to make socks from. The insight I got from WRAP was that the most sustainable thing you can do is to make a durable, long-lasting product. Further research (yes, I’m a bit of a nerd) led me to find that people’s abilities to make basic repairs and alterations is something of a lost art. This need to extend the active life of clothing and counter fast-fashion and our throwaway society led me to Socko’s brand mission; to re-teach the lost art of darning. I do this through workshops and each pair of Socko socks comes with a swatch of yarn and a darning needle.
FROM THE AMSTRAD TO THE GLADSTONE, HOW DO YOU DECIDE ON A NAME FOR EACH DESIGN?
We’re a British brand. I can name every person in the production process and wanted to find a way to give a nod to each of them without calling the socks The Neil, the Alison etc… So for The Originals I named each colourway after the street each of them worked on. It gave me some great, unequivocally British names. For our latest range, The Merinos, they have a very retro feel and a friend said of the prototype that it reminded him of a loading screen on an old gaming console. I named each one after British tech/gaming companies from the ‘70s (nerding out again).
WHAT’S THE BEST DECISION YOU EVER MADE?
To buy a one-way ticket to Paris the day I graduated.
TIME TO DAYDREAM: WHO WOULD BE YOUR DREAM TO COLLABORATE WITH AND WHY?
I’ve already had the honour of having Socko socks walk down the catwalk of Bethany Williams’ London Fashion Week show earlier this year as well as a photoshoot for sustainable footwear company Po-Zu. So I’m already made up about those opportunities to pair with like-minded brands. Looking to the future I would love to teach some of the sustainability advocates of our age the life skill of darning; Greta Thunberg, Emma Watson and Stephen Fry* to name a few. This is because I believe that to create a successful movement, you need advocacy from the grassroots but also exposure from those who not only believe in your message but can broadcast it.
*Actually Stephen Fry’s more of a dream dinner party guest but if he’s interested in learning how to darn then that would make my day.
WE’RE HUGE FANS OF SOCKO TOP DOG, ALAN! WHAT ARE HIS PICKS FOR POPPING UNDER THE CHRISTMAS TREE?
Haha! Alan initially mis-read the question and answered “biccies” but after some thought Alan’s top picks would be:
1) The Binatones because "tone" sounds like "bone".
2) The Rochstones - same rational.
3) Our brand new darning eggs, which have been hand-turned from beech off-cuts in a shed in Berkshire by the very talented Liz. Alan likes Liz because she gives him biccies...
WHICH FELLOW CREATIVES ARE YOU WATCHING RIGHT NOW?
Unsurprisingly I keep a close eye on anything to do with textiles innovation but my inspiration comes from all over. From art, to design, to fashion, to craft, there’s so much overlap between these practices and so much creativity in each and every entrepreneur. The main people I watch are Celia Pym, Gina Martin, and Thom Browne.
A big round of a-paws for Emma and Alan, thanks so much for letting us into your world and for the top stocking filler info! Click here to find out more about Socko, here to get your workshop on and here to follow Alan’s adventures over on Instagram.