When a zillion different companies were racing to tweak the latest gadget or design the newest sneaker, the folks at Stance saw a neglected market simply rife with opportunity and they struck gold mining it. That market was the socks market and the year was 2009.
It’s now 2016 and Stance is killing it. Some of their most notable triumphs include a 356% increase in hiring, a ton of capital funding, a multi-million dollar expansion into underwear, landing the title of official sock for the NBA in 2015 and, most recently, the honor of being named the official sock for Major League Baseball (MLB). Oh, and they also sell Beavis & Butthead socks, which is indisputably a factor in the company’s resounding success. Okay, maybe not, but seriously check out the Beavis & Butthead socks–your friends will love them. Whatever the case, Stance has come a very long way in a very short period of time thanks to pumping pure ingenuity into an industry where the most common options were literally black or white.
Not only is Stance’s meteoric rise due to breathing new life into a forgotten industry, but also thanks to the novel and absolutely modern way it motivates cooperation through unity and team spirit. Put simply, this company does not take its role as purveyors of signature socks and underwear lightly. They liken their success to an artistic movement and refer to their brand representatives as Punks & Poets, a squad that includes athletes, designers, writers, stylists and photographers among its order. If you’re thinking about joining their team, you better be innovative, energetic, and at least a little serious when it comes to socks and underwear. With such a grand sense of team spirit at play, it only makes sense that they would begin partnering with athletic organizations.
Which brings us back to the deal with MLB–quite possibly the company’s greatest achievement yet, one that has athletes getting excited as well as fans of both fashion and baseball. After all, the MLB is perhaps the most sock dominated sport in history. Not only does it contain two teams named after socks (or “Sox” if you will) but one of those team’s actually uses a pair of socks as its emblem. The sock tradition in baseball goes all the way back to 1867 when Wright’s Cincinnati Red Stockings first took the field.
The collaboration will also perhaps breathe new life into the synergistic relationship between fashion brands and athletic teams. From NBA sneaker to football jerseys to soccer shorts, the look of professional (and college) athletics has always bled profitably into the fashion market, but some have wondered if that well of crossover appeal is getting stagnant. With a company like Stance entering the game there’s a ton of potential for the industry of athletics to undergo a makeover and renew its interest in fueling the fashion economy at large. Socks, today. Shirts, pants, and caps tomorrow? We’ll see.
For now it’s all about the socks, and the partnership between Stance and the MLB is hoping to further energize an already motivated sock-crazy marketplace. It might also inspire some baseball players to turn away from the current trend of pulling down their pant legs and showing off some of those new killer ankle threads. In fact, if the new deal starts equating to drastic profits in the merchandise sector we wouldn’t be surprised if pulling up the pant leg became a league requirement.
It feels almost funny for there to be such fervor over the men’s sock, but given how oversaturated every other market is we can’t help but say why the heck shouldn’t someone bring a little personality to the average shoe undergarment? Stance is doing so the way the best modern companies do, with a creative office space meant to harness innovation and again a team spirit that turns designers into artistic pioneers. According to Stance co-founder Taylor Shupe, “Socks were…completely overlooked as a piece of technical equipment. There hasn’t been any real innovation in the space despite how important socks actually are in achieving comfort and function to protect the foot.”
Like uniforms, the Stance MLB socks will feature unique designs based on the visual demands of a given team and they’ll make their debut during All Star Week at San Diego’s Petco Park in July. Because of the stunning designs on display the players will more than likely be showing off the new ankle-huggers and there might even be some non-sports enthusiasts and Wall Street analysts watching just to scope the latest style. Being that Stance has also recently expanded into the underwear market there’s also the underlying potential for future deals, though we’re fairly sure that no baseball player will run on field with his underpants sticking out no matter how much you pay him.