In this special report, License Global’s editorial team delves into socks as a fashion accessory and how licensing impacts the category.

Ian Hart, Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA

March 10, 2023

4 Min Read
London Sock Exchange x TfL socks.
London Sock Exchange x TfL socks.London Sock Exchange

In the world of business attire, people might be hamstrung when it comes to creativity or color. One might wear a brightly colored shirt, some flashy cufflinks, a patterned tie … or maybe accompany an outfit with some colorful socks. A pair of socks could be the easiest way to accessorize an outfit, showing off the wearer’s individuality and personality, while still maintaining a professional dress code., a fashion website dedicated to styles and trends, highlights that a pair of fun socks can help convey an air of confidence or a rebellious and expressive side to one’s personality, while, a site dedicated to making finding socks for your wedding easier, suggests that the main rule when choosing wedding socks is, “If you like it, go for it.”

According to Grand View Research, the global socks market was valued at $42.7 billion in 2021 and is estimated to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 6.3% from 2022 to 2030. With an increasing trend of formal clothing playing a key role in boosting product demand, a desire to be versatile could also be a factor. According, formalwear will continue to be redefined in 2023. A black suit will no longer be a wardrobe staple. Instead, consumers are looking to prioritize versatility for work and events and statement-making outfits will be the order of the day for special occasions. This is estimated to increase market growth over the forecast period, along with anticipated growth in spending on health, as well as fitness, including sports socks and ankle socks. The rise in popularity of cropped trousers has also allowed extra leg room to show off a stylish pair of socks.

Creativity in socks doesn’t simply have to be limited to patterns and colors. London Sock Exchange has collaborated with the likes of the rock band, Queen, James Bond and Transport for London on sock collections, while younger consumers can sport “Jurassic World,” “Batman” and “PAW Patrol” on their socks, with collections from Erve.

“In recent years we’ve worked on a few selected licensed ranges with the likes of 007 (via EON), Queen (via Universal Music) and Transport for London,” says Dan Zell, founder, London Sock Exchange. “These partnerships have been a great way for us to accelerate the growth of our audience globally while continuing to create thoughtfully designed, sustainably made products which we’re incredibly proud of. Very much a win-win scenario.”

“We have been producing high-quality licensed and branded apparel for leading retailers across the globe for over 35 years,” says Camille Charles, global marketing manger, Erve. “We are proud to say we are a market leader for licensed socks. In 2022 we produced and delivered more than 110 million pairs of socks to Europe and the U.K. This is thanks to our dedicated sourcing, our trend watchers and in-house design teams. The socks sourcing and production is done in eight countries around the world.

Our trend watchers and in-house design teams thrive on the opportunity to propose innovative product ranges to suit our customer’s needs. On top of that, we also offer customized artworks and innovative packaging to bring our accessories to the next level.”

Sustainability in fashion was one of the core topics at Brand Licensing Europe in September and, according to Grand View Research, it’s cotton that dominated the global industry in 2021, accounting for the maximum share of more than 44.95% of the overall revenue, with further expansion expected. It’s largely down to cotton being a natural fiber free from chemical additives, which makes it safe for the environment. Soft cotton socks provide more comfort than other types of materials, plus the lack of harmful chemicals makes cotton socks a good choice for individuals with sensitive skin.

Brand licensing is a big part of fashion, but fashion extends beyond essential apparel. For some, accessories add to their wardrobe and can complete a look they want to achieve.

For the licensing industry, it’s a good look. According to License Global’s Top Global Licensors Report, most licensors said that brand collaboration at retail was paramount to their growth strategy for 2023, including accessories.

Accessories are also a big part of a licensee’s world. In November’s Leading Licenees report, about a third of licensees on the list created licensed accessories in 2022.

To read License Global’s Fashion Accessories report in full, click here.

To read more from February’s Fashion issue, click here.

About the Author(s)

Ian Hart

Senior Digital Editor U.K. & EMEA, License Global

Ian joined the License Global editorial team in May 2022 as digital editor for the U.K. and EMEA, becoming Senior Digital Editor in April 2023.

Ian is a huge fan of sports and entertainment brands and, as a father, toys and kids' brands are a large part of his life!

He has been at Informa (formerly UBM) since 2018, where he was previously the editor of SHP, a B2B digital publication aimed at health & safety professionals.

Ian studied journalism at university before spending seven years in online fantasy gaming. Prior to moving to Informa, Ian worked in B2B trade print media, in the automotive sector, working on various publications aimed at independent automotive technicians and parts distributors.

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