Gen Z says wearing socks that are the wrong HEIGHT makes you look old and unfashionable. Can you guess which style they think is cool?

Gen Z says wearing socks that are the wrong HEIGHT makes you look old and unfashionable. Can you guess which style they think is cool?
Gen Z says wearing socks that are the wrong HEIGHT makes you look old and unfashionable. Can you guess which style they think is cool?

The once-outdated ankle sock is making a surprising comeback, with Gen Z leading the way.

Gone are the days when low-cut socks ruled the gym, workplace and social media. Now, the trend is for higher socks, echoing popular styles from the 80s and 90s.

Fashion trends are a battlefield where generations collide. From Gen Z’s banishment of the side part to the slow death of skinny jeans, the lines in the sand are clearly drawn.

“If you wear low-cut socks, it means you are over 30,” Chidebe Ndibe, a 26-year-old software developer and advocate of high socks, told the Wall Street Journal.

There’s a constant tug-of-war between forging a unique identity and having history repeat itself. Gen Z, eager to forge its own path, is guilty of mocking the styles the older generation considered “trendy,” even if those same styles were in fashion a long time ago.

The once-outdated ankle sock is making a surprising comeback, with Gen Z leading the way

Gone are the days when low-cut socks ruled the gym, workplace and social media. Now, the trend is for higher socks, echoing popular styles from the 80s and 90s.

Young athletic sock enthusiasts take the “higher is better” approach, citing a variety of influences.

From the late Princess Diana’s iconic biker shorts and socks combo to contemporary celebrities like Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner sporting knee-high socks with leggings after a workout, and even fashion editorials showcasing folded socks with loafers, these young people find inspiration in both classic and current styles.

“I feel like it makes an outfit look more complete,” another team member, Kendall Maynard, 18, told the Wall Street Journal.

Ndibe echoes that sentiment: “With my legs, specifically, I feel like it almost helps them look longer,” she says.

From the late Princess Diana’s iconic biker shorts and socks combo to contemporary celebrities like Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner sporting knee-high socks with leggings after a workout, and even fashion editorials showing folded socks with loafers, these young people find inspiration in both classic and current styles.

“If you wear low-cut socks, it means you are over 30,” Chidebe Ndibe, a 26-year-old software developer and advocate of high socks, told the Wall Street Journal.

Fashion trends are a battlefield where generations collide. From Gen Z’s banishment of the side part to the slow death of skinny jeans, the lines in the sand are clearly drawn.

However, the other side of the aisle remains steadfast in their belief that calf-high socks make them look disproportionate.

“I’m 5-foot-2 on a good day and I have short legs, so if I wore high socks, there would be no differentiation between my thighs and ankles,” Krista Figueroa, a 32-year-old X-ray technologist, told the Wall Street Journal. “It doesn’t look pretty.”

Figueroa also said he associates calf-high socks with his father, who pairs the godforsaken mid-calves with New Balance shoes to create the ultimate old-school dad look.

But the preference of young people for higher socks is reflected in the sales figures.

Hanes sock sales data shows a 5.9% increase for above-ankle socks from 2021, while low-cut sock sales have fallen 3.8%.

A similar trend is seen at Aritzia, where mid-calf socks outsell ankle socks by a two-to-one margin, according to Heather McLean, the company’s executive vice president of product.

Youth’s preference for taller socks is reflected in sales figures, as Hanes sock sales data shows a 5.9% increase for socks that reach above the ankle since 2021, while sales of low-cut socks have fallen by 3.8%.

Survey

Ankle socks or sports socks?

  • Ankle 0 votes
  • Crew 0 votes

Bombas is also reporting a shift toward taller socks. Visible socks now account for 42% of its business in April, up from 33% last year. In fact, there is a corresponding decline in sales of no-show socks, which fell 9% in April compared to last year, according to Randy Goldberg, co-founder and chief brand officer at Bombas.

In a TikTok that has racked up 3.7 million views, Phoebe Parsons, a 34-year-old Pilates instructor in Brisbane, Australia, said there was a direct correlation with age and sock height.

“As millennials, we’re stuck in the mentality of having skinny legs and we think our legs look better when you can see your ankle, but Gen Z doesn’t care,” Parsons said. While she tried to see the younger generation’s perspective, she said she had a “visceral” reaction to the high socks and that it just felt wrong.

 
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