Who doesn’t love socks? Here at Bespoke Unit we’re sock obsessed, and one our favorite sock providers is Foot Cardigan. Based in Texas, Foot Cardigan provides a sock subscription program: every month, you’ll receive a limited edition pair of socks in your mailbox. It might be a beautiful stripe, or a repeating flamingo design; you don’t know until you get them. I called Bryan DeLuca, one of the five founders, to find out more.
Bryan: Fire away dude, bring it!
Carlos: (Laughs) Lets get it on. What socks do you have on right now?
B: I’m wearing a prehistoric one. It’s got dinosaurs, unicorns, and Sasquatch on it.
C: Wow (pause) That’s extreme. Let’s talk about the beginning. Quoting directly from your website: “A copywriter, a web developer, a surgical equipment salesman, a Public Administration PhD, and a former music industry hack all walk into a bar…”
B: I’m the former music industry hack (chuckles). I was always drawn to being an entrepreneur, and my wife and I hated our jobs. Just sick of it. So we went to Europe for three months and I quickly realized that I forgot socks. I went to Top Shop and got a six pack of colorful stripes. When I got back to Dallas, where we’re based, those socks stayed with me. Even a few years ago wearing bold socks was new; I kept getting all the compliments. After seeing the Dollar Shave Club video I realized that I don’t want to go to the store to buy razors, and I don’t want to go to the store to buy socks. One thing lead to another and in 2012, I pitched the idea to five guys who all have very special skills, and it was on.
C: Like the A-Team
B: We have particular skills, like Liam Neeson, and aside from that, we all have a great time. That picture on our site didn’t have to be faked; we all have a great time. We launched June 1st 2012. That’s the beginning.
C: The best thing about your company is that it looks fun. On the front page of your website, you have a picture of five guys in outfits ranging from steampunk, smoking robes, a cowboy, old-timey boating, Victorian black tie, all in their underwear wearing crazy socks.
B: That’s what we’re going for. I’ve stumbled into the world of menswear recently. I kinda get men’s fashion trends, despite wearing mainly t-shirts and a good pair of denim. I would always tell my wife that I want to start dressing more dapper, and I see your pictures and Craig’s pictures and I’m not sure if I can pull that off.
C: We’re seasoned menswear professionals.
B: I’m a new father, so I dress vicariously through people like you–with the exception being socks, of course.
C: The loud sock trend has really been growing recently; why do you think that is?
B: It’s really fun to make crazy socks, like a guy riding a unicycle and getting eaten by an octopus, but I’m drawn to the stuff you or Craig wear a lot. There’s a market for the crazy stuff; some folks email us saying “Send us the craziest shit you guys have.”
C: What is the craziest shit you guys have?
B: Maybe the one I just described. We cater to the majority, so we don’t use anything inappropriate. But our company isn’t for the weak of heart. Buying a sock subscription implies that every month you’re going to get something, but you don’t know what it is. It’s going to be crazy, but we don’t make socks just because they’re weird. We wear every design we make. It’s a little risky for sure, and it’s definitely not for everyone.
C: My favorite design has mountains and a UFO and on the sole says “I WANT TO BELIEVE”
B: Our web designer, who’s the one in the steampunk goggles, he’s obsessed with conspiracy theories and that one was based on the X-Files. It’s one of the more popular, we reordered it 3 times.
C: How does the creative process go? Is someone like, “you know what would be great, socks with Sasquatch on them”?
B: It really is a crazy process. We’re constantly doing this; we have 50 or 60 designs on paper, but only a few get made. It goes just like that: “you know what would be great? Chihuahuas with eyepatches.” Or we would do stripes and patterns.
C: It’s like a curated crazy.
B: That’s exactly it. We treat the sock as a canvas, so we try to use the whole thing. If we have the bottom look like water, we try to think “what’s going to come up through the sides of the sock?” Something you haven’t asked that I think is important is that I think we’re in a fashion renaissance for men, and I love it. Fashion has been mostly dominated by girls, but now we’re seeing a shift.
C: I think in general we’ve all shunned the traditional rules of fashion; it’s almost necessary to break the rules to have great style.
B: Socks are a great way for guys to jump into style, especially if they’re too scared to do a tartan blazer or a shawl-over. if you have to wear a suit everyday to work, it gets boring. Socks are a great personal touch, and they’re a gateway to wider experimentation. 70% of our subscribers are men, but 70% of the purchasers are women. So girls are buying socks for their guys.
C: Ladies love the socks.
B: Ladies love the socks.
C: I love the subscription system because you have to work in limited quantities.
B: Even though we have thousands of subscribers, the likelihood of just running into someone wearing Foot Cardigan socks is slim. We’ve considered doing exclusivity, like if you buy a pair of socks this month you can’t get them next month. I think it makes people a little more excited; the allure of exclusivity helps folks pull the trigger.
C: It’s only like 9 bucks too, you won’t feel that too much.
B: We did a TON of testing for price.
C: The goofiness of the website is hilarious. You give the option of having your socks wrapped horribly, and if you choose not to, a picture of grumpy cat appears.
B: I’m glad you found that. We have a few more easter eggs like that. Socks are meant to be fun; you don’t need black and white socks. It was important for us to show that. We took that picture in a very nice hotel, and people were walking by in power suits and we were sitting there in our underwear. The GM loved it, he emailed us afterwards. I think it shows that everyone loves a good smile. We really want to provide great service. It’s not just a sock subscription, it’s a fun experience. It’s not hard for us to think of designs because we are a direct extension of our brand. If you met us you would think, “This is exactly what I expect from Foot Cardigan.”
C: I’m going to end with a question Craig wanted me to ask you. He says, “hello, I hope you have made the necessary party arrangements.”
B: We’re trying to grow internationally. When we open in London this summer, we want to have a Foot Cardigan Launch party. Hopefully we can make that happen.
Find Foot Cardigan here: www.FootCardigan.com