9 unusual facts about socks

Did you know that a Chinese city manufactures a third of its world production? That some pairs are worth more than 1,000 euros? And that Albert Einstein never wore one?

Manufacturing: China supplies the planet

Each has its own thing: Turin is famous for its automobile industry, Antwerp for its diamonds and Datang, China, is the international capital… of socks. This city has only 60,000 inhabitants, but its 6,000 companies – 10,000 including family stores – manufacture, according to data from the national newspaper China Daily, 27 billion pairs of socks per year, or a large third of the world’s production. It all started in the late 1970s with some local midfielders. Soon the whole city followed, and by the early 2000s it was dominating the global market. Today, workers flock from all over the region. And many spin-off industries thrive around the core product. Thus, some streets are home to shops dedicated to the yarn business, others selling knitting machines… And on the main avenue, a banner proclaims: “Welcome to the stocking capital!”

socks in numbers

9 pairs. This is, according to a survey commissioned by the Swiss brand Blacksocks, the number of socks bought annually by the French. The Germans would consume 13.

66% of the French, according to the same survey, change socks every day, compared to 78% of the English and Germans. 1% of Europeans change only once a week.

1,023 euros : this is the price of a pair of New Zealand red deer socks. Who said it best? The buyer who ordered them online in 2018 bought three pairs at once.

1 ton of textile waste: it is what generates the production of one million pairs of socks. The company Broussaud has just launched, with an exclusive process, a line made from these residues.

When socks convey a political message

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has a habit of delivering political messages while wearing his socks. One day, he wears maple leaves, the symbol of Canada, on his ankles to show his attachment to his country’s unity. Another, on June 26, 2017, he unveils rainbow socks to celebrate Gay Pride. On that day, the stripes could also read “Eid Mubarak”, a ritual wish by Muslims for the end of Ramadan, which fell on the same date. Consensual to the fingertips…

A symbol for the MLF

In his latest book, sociologist Jean-Claude Kaufmann is interested in stockings and, in particular, their role in the couple. Do they not embody male dominance? So, in the 1970s, the MLF issued this vindictive slogan: “Workers of all countries, who washes your socks?” Many other reflections and anecdotes in Little sock philosophyby Jean-Claude Kaufmann (ed. Buchet-Chastel).

No they are not love killers

Holy revenge for these clothing accessories, often derided for their lack of sex appeal! A study by the Dutch University of Groningen, published in 2005 and taken up by the serious magazine New Scientist, states that they contribute to the frequency and quality of orgasms. Keeping their socks on during sex helped the Dutch test subjects achieve ecstasy 8 out of 10 times, compared to 5 out of 10 for barefoot participants. Reason given: using them would improve blood circulation, which would sharpen our sensations.

Why is there always a sock missing?

After making a washing machine and letting the clothes dry, we mechanically assemble shirts, pants, socks. We separate these two by two… and upon arrival, astonishment: one is missing! This domestic mystery is not an isolated problem. According to an English survey carried out in 2017, our British neighbors lose around 15 socks a year, or 1,264 on average over a lifetime! There is no reason for us to be better than them. But where do those damn socks go? A German report, produced for the German channel Das Erste in 2016, may solve the riddle. The “investigators” had the very simple idea of ​​filming a surveillance machine in action. We see a sock suddenly slip out of the drum during the wash cycle, slip on the gasket that surrounds it, and get lost between the tub and the drum! The mystery of the orphan socks thus boiled down to a banal waterproofing problem…

Einstein, the barefoot genius

“When I was young, wrote Albert Einstein in a letter, I noticed that the big toe always ended up poking a hole in the sock. So I stopped using it. And he clung to it steadfastly! Throughout his life, the brilliant physicist often walked barefoot or in sandals.

the black stockings

All of us, or almost all of us, know the famous yéyé group Les Chaussettes noirs. But we don’t know where its name comes from. In fact, it is a simple marketing operation: in 1961, Eddie Barclay, who produces their records, signs a sponsorship contract with the Stemm socks brand to rename the group, formerly called The Five Rocks. Its musicians, including the singer, one Eddy Mitchell, are not very happy with this new identity from which they derive no benefit, except a box of ten pairs of black socks each…

With Stromae the socks show

In 2013, with his designer wife, the singer Stromae was looking for a sock to make his stage socks. The couple would like him to live in or near Belgium – to reduce the clothing’s carbon footprint. The choice fell on a limousine company, Broussaud. She now makes thousands of pairs for Stromae, because he created a clothing line, distributed on the internet and called Mosaert.

high tech socks

Socks for sleeping standing up… Designed in 2015 by Netflix, they are equipped with a chip connected to the television. When the feet that carry them do not move for five or ten minutes, the spectator is asleep. The chip then sends a signal and the series or movie is interrupted – the spectator will have his fiction interrupted when he falls asleep! Please note that these accessories are reserved for the do-it-yourselfers. Netflix, in fact, does not market them, but has posted a tutorial on YouTube explaining how to make them.

The color codes of the Vatican and the French Academy

He really wanted to pamper his feet: an American customer spent €14,000 in 2018 to buy around forty pairs of socks online – an average of €175 each. At this price, models in Scottish yarn, cashmere, vicuna and rarer materials. The site where you can find these exceptional pieces is that of the French start-up My Red Socks, founded in 2009 and which quickly became one of the world’s references in luxury socks. Its website notably markets the famous Gammarelli, named after a Roman sock created in 1798 and an official supplier to the Vatican. Gammarelli makes white socks for the pope, black for priests, purple for bishops and red for cardinals. If you prefer a more secular elegance, My Red Socks also sells green Mazarin socks, initially intended for members of the French Academy.

the sock saga

1st Century Celts to Romans

In antiquity, men and women walked barefoot. However, socks, socks that cover feet and legs, appear in different civilizations. “The Romans, it seems, adopted them around the 1st century, in particular in contact with the Celts,” explains Xavier Chaumette, a fashion historian.

1589: The knitting machine

In Calverton, England, Reverend William Lee invents the knitting loom. Long before that, the manual technique of knitting, imported from the East, undoubtedly through the Crusades, spread in the twelfth century in Europe – mainly for the manufacture of pants, or socks.

1789: Revolution… in textiles

French women are abandoning shorts and stockings, considered noble attire, and adopting long pants and stockings – now stopping below the knee. However, with each return of royalty, and even during both empires, we will see the reappearance of panties and stockings, specifies Xavier Chaumette.

1819: The initials DD!

The Maison Doré socks and stockings brand is born, which soon becomes Doré-Doré: hence the famous DD socks, still produced today. The company, bought by an Italian brand, closed its historic French factory, based in Fontaine-les-Grès (Aube), in 2003.

2007: Farewell to Russian socks

The “portianki”, or “Russian socks”, designate bands that involve the feet. Russian soldiers used to wear them until very recently: they only officially disappeared from their uniforms in 2007.

Where do Saint-Nicolas socks come from?

It is a famous legend in Northern Europe. In an attic, three miserable girls dry their stockings over a fire. Moved, Saint-Nicolas runs and, while they sleep, throws gold into the fireplace. When they wake up, they find their socks full of coins. Since then, on the eve of every Saint-Nicolas (December 6th), children hang stockings on the wall… and there they find presents in the morning.

You might also be interested in:

⋙ Football World Cup: why do some players have holes in their socks?

⋙ How not to stink from feet?

⋙ Walking barefoot: a new trend

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