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From the Archive: Socks

Winter is coming and temperature lowers… so why don’t you browse Europeana Fashion’s collections of warm socks?

Socks are among the oldest item of clothing ever worn. The words comes from the Old English “socc”, which means “light slipper”. It evolved from the Latin “soccus” that indicates a “light, low-heeled shoe” which was worn by Roman comic actor, deriving from the Ancient Greek “sykchos”.

Socks, machine knitted wool with a chequered pattern of black, red and yellow plaid, London, ca. 1851. Collection Victoria and Albert Museum, CC-BY-SA

Socks, machine knitted wool with a chequered pattern of black, red and yellow plaid, London, ca. 1851. Collection Victoria and Albert Museum, CC-BY-SA.

Those worn by Ancient Greeks in the 8th century BC were made from matted animal hair for warmth, but since then the socks evolved in form and uses. Romans, in fact, used to wrap their feet with leather and other fabrics instead. These clothes also got different symbolic meanings. By the 5th century AD, socks called “puttees” were worn in Europe to symbolize purity, and by 1000 AD, for the high value of this item of clothing, they became a symbol of wealth among the nobility. However, the invention of knitting machine in 1589 revolutionized the production of socks, which could be knitted with the machine far more fast than by hand.

Children’s quilted socks 'Bosan', Korean, early 20th century. Collection Shoes or Not Shoes Museum, all rights reserved.

Children’s quilted socks 'Bosan', Korean, early 20th century. Collection Shoes or Not Shoes Museum, all rights reserved.

Europeana Fashion collects in its archive a wide variety of socks, from all over the world. The collection includes not only the tabi socks which inspired the famous Maison Martin Margiela “Tabi Shoes”, but also many traditional socks from different times and countries. In addition, in the collections there are some outlandish examples of socks designed by many contemporary designers, like Berhnard Willhelm.

Browse Europeana Fashion collection to find more socks for your winter!

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