The Slow Fashion Socks That Turned One Writer Into a Hosiery Fan
I’ve been obsessed with Strathcona Stockings since my teens. Although I’m not one to gush over “silly socks,” these botanical patterned, Monet-lily inspired stockings are much more stylish than the comedic Bart Simpson socks you’ve probably found in your dad’s closet. Each pair of stockings is a beautiful work of art, hand-painted, collaged, photographed or drawn by Vancouver-based founder Ryley O’Byrne.
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve worn a plain outfit: black skinnies, black t-shirt, black loafers, added Strathconas, and had people compliment the tropical bird or wild mushroom-patterned gap between the fray of my jeans and the leather lip of my shoes.
My first pair was given to me as a Christmas gift from my mom. Quite the evolution from the Roots socks I received in my stocking in previous years, I was enthralled to catch a glimpse of the winding vines and botanicals that folded over the slick brown paper label, which kept them neatly secured in their perfect rectangular package. Addicted to my new socks, I looked for different ways to wear them. Pulled-up over bare legs with a mini skirt, under cropped jeans with loafers, with a pair of sneakers, or even under sandals.
“My creative process is intuitive; I try to keep it fun and light hearted,” says O’Byrne. “In some ways that is my overall approach to the project. There were a few points when things threatened to become more serious (bigger) for Strathcona, and I had to decide how to proceed, for now I have made the choice to keep the project relatively small and manageable. We still make everything locally and print only limited runs.”
To feed my obsession, I began purchasing a new pair every once in a while, adding bright colours and tropical foliage to my prided sock drawer. Beyond their aesthetic frill, their place in slow fashion is inspiring. Fabricated in Canada, the brand values creativity, quality and artistic expression over world domination.
“I believe in slow fashion, truly,” says O’Byrne. “We are accustomed to inexpensive clothing and objects, and we have become completely disconnected from understanding their source and the work and resources that go into their creation. Strathcona Studio, our clothing line, really brought this into focus for me. The amount of work that goes into making a button up shirt is incredible! The idea that this hand-made object can be sold for $29.99 seems unfathomable now. There is also a question of the creative energy that goes into making original things — not just a knock-offs of someone else’s creative work.”
O’Byrne expanded the brand into Ready-to-Wear leisure clothing and accessories such as sleeping masks and bags back in 2016. These items are printed with the same patterns as the original stockings, so if you’re like me, and obsess over the Strathcona lifestyle, you can incorporate it into your wardrobe in many more ways than just your sock collection.
Here’s an array of Strathcona styles you can shop, to join the cool sock revolution.