The kind of socks you wear tells a tale of who you are, writes Syida Lizta Amirul Ihsan
WHEN graphic designers Sam Wong, 38 and Fei Kweok, 37, started Goodpair Socks six years ago as a home business, they knew they wanted to make weird and colourful socks.
What the husband-and-wife team didn’t expect were the psychological revelations that came about as a result of their venture.
While their customers are mostly female, most of those who wear their socks are male.
“We thought people would buy socks for themselves but our customers buy them as gifts. Women buy our socks for their husbands and boyfriends,” Wong says.
“Either they want to add a dash of colour to their partners’ wardrobe or they want these socks to bring them joy,” Kweok adds.
Wong says a customer once told her that he likes mismatched socks but had trouble wearing them to go out because he “didn’t know what other people would think of him”.
“It’s really interesting to see how we are more concerned about people’s perceptions of us than doing something we prefer, like wearing mismatched socks,” she says.
The couple agree that comfortable socks are boring.
“That’s why we make Goodpair. We want to make weird and funny socks that feel just as comfortable as boring ones,” she says.
Kweok says many contract manufacturers for some of the world’s big labels are in Malaysia, making the country perfect for this business. They have been making the same kind of socks for a long time and are excited at the prospect of doing things differently.
“The daughter of our manufacturer, who is taking over her father’s business, is excited about trying something new. It challenges how they work and makes socks an interesting product,” Wong says.
Kweok noticed that baby socks don’t have seams at the toes and he uses the same philosophy for their adult socks so customers don’t feel the seams and nails don’t grab the yarn.
Their socks are made of spandex and cotton. Most socks use nylon.
This, Wong says, makes them breathable and prevents socks from getting smelly.
“We live in a tropical country and these things really need consideration,” she says.
When the pair produced their first batch of socks in 2014, they only managed to sell three pairs at a bazaar they took part in.
“We thought we had made a good product and people would buy it but we are creators, nor marketers,” Wong says.
Their spirit was not dampened though and they later went onto online marketplace Etsy. Orders grew from there. For many years, 90 per cent of their customers have been from out of the country.
But the gap has gotten smaller in the last two years as more Malaysians have started wearing colourful socks.
“Colourful socks are often worn by cyclists, performers and artists but the interest is growing. It’s interesting to see how socks have become a way to convey your quirkiness,”
“You might think it’s hard to carry a bright shirt, but a pair of colourful socks isn’t that hard to wear,” she says.
The brand has also collaborated with fashion brand Motoguo, shoe brand Nelissa Hilman and art studio Fictionist Studio under the Kawan Project.
Each collaboration has a story.
With the Fictionist Studio, they made the Three Legged-Pair — two are identical and one isn’t, so you can mix and match. The story behind it is based on the human desire to always want more — more money, more storage space, more time — that we no longer know that we have enough.
“We have a pair of legs. And there are three socks. In the end, you will only use two at a time. Two is enough,” she says.
If you are new to wearing colourful socks, consider these tips:
1.Socks reveal an aspect of your personality that you might not want everyone to see, so choose something that gels with your style and emotion.
2.Try what’s comfortable — maybe something with a pop of colour or your favourite image. You don’t have to use mismatched socks right away.
3. Put some thought into your choice of the day so the process is interesting.