“There was a time when socks were very boring,” said Jonathan Larsson, Happy Socks’ international representative, as if he was starting a fairy tale.
And in some ways, he was.
Jonathan was in Manila recently, enjoying what he called “a good vibe.” He told Super about the beginnings of the Swedish sock brand that has found a home in over 70 countries around the world.
“The founders had a common interest; when going out in Stockholm, they liked wearing colorful socks. That’s how it all started.”
Unable to find socks to satisfy their desires, Viktor Tell and Mikael Söderlindh decided to make their own.
“They found a gap in the business. We became the first company that only focused on doing colorful socks with patterns,” said Jonathan.
Seven years and many copycats later, Jonathan believes their brand has stayed on top of the patterned-sock game. “We maintain a high standard of quality. Others try to compete on price and not on design and quality.”
Viktor, the company’s creative director, continues to design new pairs and is currently working on fall/winter 2016 patterns. The best sellers—dots, argyle, stripes—are mainstays, but the brand is constantly looking for ways to innovate.
“We look at what we have and haven’t done before, what can be done technical-wise, seasonal inspirations. We are planning holiday drops for Christmas and Easter,” Jonathan said.
There have been special collaborations too—with Candy Crush, David LaChapelle, Opening Ceremony, Terry Richardson and others. The Snoop Dogg partnership is doing really well, even in the Philippines.
It was Katherine Sy and Diana Ong’s own quest to find colorful socks that led them to Happy Socks. They stumbled upon the brand in a department store in Singapore where they used to be based. “I hoarded a lot. Around two dozen, I think,” Katherine said.
Diana loves the different patterns, while Katherine is a fan of the big dots and the vibrant colors.
Katherine and Diana, who run a digital marketing agency and Dream Lab Lifestyle with other partners, thought of bringing the brand to Manila. They found affirmation during a meeting at a Japanese restaurant. When they took their shoes off, the people they were meeting with reacted positively to their socks.
“That’s when we knew we really had to bring Happy Socks in,” said Diana.
Katherine said, “Happy Socks fits the Philippine market because we’re optimists—colorful, fun and happy.”
Happy Socks is now available in different stores, including Common Thread in Greenbelt 5 and Power Plant Mall, Rustan’s Makati, Satchmi in SM Megamall, Urban Athletics in Greenbelt 3, Sole Slam Manila in Katipunan Ave., The Union Station Barber Shop in The Link, Ayala Center, Urban Superior Cebu, and Chimes Specialty Store in Davao.
Diana said, “We try to fit it with people’s lifestyles. We try to understand who wears Happy Socks. It’s usually creative people. We put them in stores for people who enjoy music, who like coffee, who have a fashion sense. We curate it in a way that it pops out. We try to diversify.”
The socks come in different sizes—41 to 46 and 36 to 40 for adults; there are pairs for kids, too.
Happy Socks has a lot more in store for fans. It will be releasing colorful underwear and dress socks in the Philippines soon. The brand is planning local collaborations in the countries it’s available in.
“We think it’s important to have collaborations that are global but also to speak locally. It can be a DJ, a restaurant, a bar, a club,” said Jonathan.
Black sock rut
What about people who are stuck in a black sock rut and who are unsure about venturing into the world of color?
Jonathan, who was wearing a pair from Happy Socks’ upcoming Billionaire Boys Club collaboration, said, “I was a black sock before.”
Now, he says, his outlook has changed. “The more color, the better for me. It always starts when you get a present and you start wearing it and it becomes an addiction. Maybe in the beginning, you wear darker clothes and colorful socks. Some guys wear it with suits, if they have a black suit, white shirt kind of job, it makes a colorful addition to the style.”
Diana said, “It depends on my mood. Sometimes I let my socks be my accessory.”
Katherine shared, “I always wear blue, black, dark colors because I wanted to look slim in pictures. But then I said, there should be a part of me that I can use to translate my emotions. Saan ba hindi kailangan magmukhang payat? So socks! Be yourself, be confident and be happy.”
For the people of Dream Lab Lifestyle, it’s not just about selling socks. “Our main goal is to spread happiness,” Katherine said.
They did just that recently when they officially launched Happy Socks. Guests were invited to take off their shoes and slip on Happy Socks of their choice as they entered Staple and Perk Bakery in Makati.
Event attendees were also given a mission to continue spreading happiness. Each guest went home with a special Happy Socks #100HappyActs box that contained three pairs of Happy Socks socks or underwear.
Katherine said, “The idea is, the first pair is yours and the other pairs, you need to pass them on to someone else. At the same time, you have to do an act of kindness—help your sister do her homework, treat your mom to dinner…it’s about passing it on.”
The boxes were printed with suggestions: “Usher in the birthday of your friend at his/her house” or “Volunter a weekend for a charity organization.”
“Happiness is contagious,” Diana said.
Adds Jonathan, “If you start wearing Happy Socks, you will probably be addicted. But that can be a good thing.”