Heddels readers often follow a certain trajectory in their high-end shopping lives. It all starts with raw denim and then progresses to leather goods: belts, jackets, and boots. After you’ve blown most of your savings on these staples, you start to appreciate the smaller, finer items. Loopwheeled tees and underwear are suddenly a must-have.
But the last stop on this crazy buying binge is the simplest piece of all: the humble sock.
Of all our high-end, hand-made purchases; socks are often the hardest purchase to justify. Sure you used to buy a million socks in a bag from Target, but you did the same thing with t-shirts before you discovered Merz B. Schwanen and Lady White.
As with most of our favorite clothing-items, the frontrunners in the sock game are all Japanese brands, many of whom apply the meticulous and hard-wearing principles we love in our big-ticket items to the s0ck.
Anonymous Ism is a great place to start in your sock journey. Socks from this brand cost range from $19 to about $40, making them simultaneously our most and least expensive brand. Their typically simple, tasteful design (the above sock is an outlier) and affordability have made them popular with Western retailers, so it’s quite possible you can check them out in a brick and mortar store.
The only caveat here is that Anonymous Ism socks come in only one size, so if your foot is larger (or significantly smaller) than a size 10, you may be out of luck. Tubular-knit construction makes them rather narrow too, so wider feet might have issues with them.
Available from Unionmade.
Another great option for stepping up your sock-game is Chup Socks. Chup socks run about $35 across the board, but the slight uptick in price means more exciting patterns! Chup’s design pulls alternately from Scandinavian and Native American design motifs, making for visually engaging accents that will really pop in your next Instagram fit-pic.
Chup socks are made on a vintage stocking frame machine that can only produce between 20 and 25 pairs a day. Each sock is then hand-linked and inspected by Chup’s trained artisans. The slower pace means that the company can effectively churn out these complex weaves and ensure a high quality product reaches the consumer.
Available from Chup Socks.
For simpler designs, there’s another option: RoToTo. RoToTo, like Chup uses only the highest-quality weaving machines and none are automated. With a pair of their socks, you know that every step of the construction was supervised by trained craftspeople. Although slightly harder to track down, their signature cotton/linen blend socks run for between $18 and $20.
Available from Superdenim.
Stevenson Overall Co.
Like with everything from Stevenson Overall Company, these socks are more than meets the eye. While the other socks on this list have stuck with cotton for their socks, designer Atsu has upped the ante with a signature blend. (Cotton:41% / Acrylic:40% / Polyester:10% / Nylon:8% / Polyurethane:1%) This blend allows for some wicking and as the tag brags, keeps these socks up all day.
Although known more for their denim and workwear, SOC has a long track record of applying their fanatical attention to detail to simpler pieces: tees, underwear, and in this case, socks. So if you pick up a pair of the brand’s La Jolla jeans, maybe toss a pair of socks in the shopping cart too.
Available for $26 from Self Edge.
Another brand not usually associated with socks is Kapital. The zany Japanese brand has also used their long history of extraordinary craftsmanship to tackle socks in their own way. Their socks for spring are woven with thick cotton slub yarn and color-blocked. The chunky, low-tension weave should keep these socks breathable in the warmer months and their $35 price tag makes them an easy way to buy into the Kapital brand without putting a major dent in your savings account.
Available from Haven Shop.
The Hunt for Japanese Socks Continues…
The further you descend into the world of Japanese socks, the more frustrated you’ll become. There are amazing brands like Koromo and Loop & Weft that are very difficult to track down online. Even if you do find them, you’ll have to ship directly from Japan and incur who knows how much in fees.
The fact of the matter is that like all our fast-fashion basics, there are better options. As is so frequently the case, Japan is one of the countries at the forefront of this field. While the price tag (though much smaller than that for a pair of new raw denim jeans) may seem daunting when compared to your Hanes socks you wear now, the quality will leave you wanting more. Think back to your first good pair of boots, or first great pair of jeans; a good pair of socks could change your life in just the same way.