The Domestique Critique: Velobici Premgripp Sock

I’ve had the great joy of riding in these socks for several months, over short rides and long, on the trainer and on the road. I’m stuck thinking of too many ways to introduce and explain these magical foot tubes to you, so instead I will let Velobici do the introduction. Continue reading

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Sockturday: Victory Chimp

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Victory Chimp is a really fun company. Socks, accessories, cycling art, and a jersey thrown in there – all with the tongue-in-cheek humor of the pursuit of this perfect cycling being. They even made little chimp (Chimp Jr.) cycling caps! I look forward to sporting a pair on my feet soon and I hope you do, too.

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What is your favorite VC sock/shoe combo?

Right now I love the Hill Repeats socks in orange with my new Giro Privateers I got for cross season (also in orange). I’ve went a bit mad on orange at the minute – bike, lid, socks and shoes. Still looks good after being dragged through the mud for an hour.
Do you adhere to the height rules or answer demand instead?
Victory Chimp was founded on one simple rule, only make the art and apparel that makes me smile when I wear it, or see it up on my walls. All Victory Chimp socks have a 6″ cuff which I reckon is the perfect cycling sock height. It gives me a nice big canvas for my patterns and looks good stopping just before the calf. We use a double cuff so they stay up where they should during the ride.
Photo by Lovely Bicycle

Photo by Lovely Bicycle

Do you make your own socks or do you use another company to manufacture your designs?
All of our socks are designed here in Northern Ireland and made in Italy. We work with a fellow family-run company to produce the highest quality combination of style and performance. We know colours and patterns, they know high-performing technical socks. It’s the ideal partnership.
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Why do you think cycling socks are so much fun to wear and design?
I think the current interest in cycling socks is at least partly to do with their accessibility. There’s a welcome explosion of great patterns and colours across all cycling apparel right now and socks are about the easiest entry point to inject a bit of personality into your kit. Even if you’re restricted to club or team kit, you can still usually express yourself a little in your sock choice. They can spice up a bland kit, or be the finishing touch to a great one.
On the design side, anything that challenges you and applies restrictions can be the most fun work. With socks, the design has to work right around the leg, at a relatively small size and within the limitations of the yarn. It’s fun to see what you can do within these limits and how you can push them.
Why do you not offer a women’s sock different from a men’s? Oftentimes, especially for smaller footed women the design is off when worn and fit can sometimes be not quite right.
I’m aware of this issue which is why I wanted to make a unisex sock which looked and felt good on everyone. We achieved this by using a new nylon fabric, combined with a flat seam and elasticated arch construction with a little elastane for a snug fit. We offer three sizes covering EU 36-47 / US 4-13 / UK 3-12 and are confident in the great fit provided from the smallest to largest feet. The socks were tested on both women and men and continue to be popular across the board. Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive on both sides of release.
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Do you consider mixed materials in your socks for specific purposes – warmer weather, cooler weather, wet weather, road versus CX, etc? Do materials make a beneficial difference to athletes?
Yes, we select fabrics based on the specific demands of a particular season or discipline. Using only the highest quality performance fabric as standard we create super comfortable cycling socks, breathable and durable enough to withstand the rigours of high-intensity racing. The innovative new high-wicking fabric keeps you cool in the summer months and warm when the temperature starts to drop as well as including antibacterial and odour-eliminating properties. Equally as important to comfort and performance is the overall sock construction. We use a breathable mesh upper alongside with a padded footbed (on the pressure point at the cleat) for all day comfort. How much of a performance benefit all this provides is subjective, but I’m a firm believer in the idea that if you feel good and look good, you’ll go further, faster.
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What is your design inspiration? The meaning behind your designs and patterns?
I take inspiration from my twin obsessions of cycling, chimpanzees and the (mostly imagined) intersections of both. This can result in visualising a silly pun or considering the more animalistic aspects of our sport. A lot of ideas come during long rides, the point at which messy remnants of thoughts from the day drift off and the mind clears. I’m constantly inspired by the local rural landscape of Northern Ireland, the direct connection to it that cycling provides and often enough its surreal portrayal in Flann O’Brien’s ‘The Third Policeman’.
Anything new to look out for soon?
I’m currently developing cyclocross/winter socks, expanding our Chimp Jr. range (starting with the new baby and kid sized caps) as well as putting together kit releases for Spring/Summer 2017. Lots of ideas in the works, so stay in touch with our social media accounts for news.

Sockturday: Sokhyte

sokhyte_logo_text_orange_1472867095__29069 12317516_898542893556850_680755880_aOh those Aussies, another brand coming out of that country and changing the style of cycling everywhere. Introducing Sokhyte from Melbourne, a brand of “tall” cycling sock influenced by their Dutch roots. This first collection, featured in this interview, is called The Business. But keep a close eye on their website and Instagram for the release of their new collection any day now, called The Hype. Looking forward to it myself!

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What is your favorite Sokhyte sock/shoe combo?

Shimano make a road shoe (R171), this shoe is 1/2 black and 1/2 white. The sokhyte® shoe/sock combo works well with these, the rider can wear any color without crossing the line of a miss match.

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Do you adhere to the height rules or answer demand instead?
All our sokhyte® socks are strictly 6″ in height, we use a double leg cuff allowing maximum height all day without compromise. We believe a 6″ (double leg cuff) height is perfect for cyclist and athletes alike – allowing our design to stand out. All our socks are pre-shrunk so the length is kept throughout the lifetime of the socks.
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Do you make your own socks or do you use another company to manufacture your designs?
We use a maker in Melbourne. All our socks and packaging are made in Australia. Supporting local business is important to us and our branding.
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Why do you think socks are so much fun to wear and design?
Cycling has fast become fashion first, possibly performance second in terms of riding and racing. There are many events around Australia that focus on the journey and memory, rather than crossing the line first. Gran Fondo events have taken over a huge amount of local racing. This type of event has allowed the rider to become individual and wear what they see fit, rather than having to wear a sponsor, or club kit at a race. We offer many colors to help the rider find that mix in a race or Fondo type event, and offer custom request to suit clubs, teams etc.
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Why do you not offer a women’s sock different from a men’s? Oftentimes, especially for smaller footed women the design is off when worn and fit can sometimes be not quite right.
We offer a sizing from 35-45+ EU, this covers every size, including juniors, women and large EU sizes of 45+. There is no difference with our womens/mens cut as we use a mixture of cotton, nylon and elastane. This is very important when constructing a performance based sock as the elastane component allows the sock to hold its shape for longer, compared with socks using less elastic. So if a person needs a size 35 EU pair of socks, they can be assured it will stay that size for the lifetime of the socks.
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Do you consider mixed materials in your socks for specific purposes – warmer weather, cooler weather, wet weather, etc?
Do materials make a beneficial difference to athletes? We use cotton (60%), nylon (36%) and elastane (4%). This is the perfect mix of thread, it allows the foot to breath, extract sweat and keep the foot comfortable during any type weather. We will look at Merino Wool in the future as well as Bamboo, however we believe our construction, combined with the double leg cuff is perfect.
What is your design inspiration? The meaning behind your designs and patterns?
The first and foremost important part of our design and production is the construction of our socks. We offer a double 6″ leg cuff that we think is perfect for fit, comfort and performance. The reason for this is the socks will never sag or slide down the leg, in any form of event such as an Ironman, Marathon or Cycling event. Our designs are carefully thought out, we research as many brands as we can and try and find a design, or mixture of artwork that is different to the rest. We offer the riders a base color sock, with artwork/patterns added to them. We like to keep our sock designs clean and simple, rather than crossing the line of too many colors in one design.
**Anything new to look out for soon?
We will offer 4-6 color options per design in any given season, toward the end of the season we will promote a new design, and roll it out over the previous design. This will give the wearer a new option of design and color all year round. We will keep our offerings to around 6-10 as too many options can confuse a retailer when it comes to merchandising the shop space.

Sockturday: Versus

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Versus is a sock you MUST have in your drawer. The guys are so fun and cool to chat with and their interview below shows it. It’s the right balance between technical and fun, much like you like your own cycling life. And best of all, they are the first to note the sizing difference between male and female feet! Keep your eyes peeled (no pun intended) and go bananas (pun intended) for new styles coming soon!
What is your favorite Versus sock/shoe combo?
Versus Jelly Bean socks and Specialized S-Works road shoes.
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Do you adhere to the height rules or answer demand instead?
We try and keep the majority of cyclists happy. We have our longer socks (Premium Race and Premium Trail) and also our mid-length Race and Trail socks – that’s not too high and not too short.
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Do you make your own socks or do you use another company to manufacture your designs?
We work with local South African manufacturers that help us to develop our socks, but we do all the designing ourselves.
Why do you think cycling socks are so much fun to wear and design?
Cycling socks are like spices to a chef. It gives that extra touch of flavour to a cycling kit.
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Why do you not offer a women’s sock different from a men’s? Oftentimes, especially for smaller footed women the design is off when worn and fit can sometimes be not quite right.
Stay tuned it’s coming soon 😉
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Do you consider mixed materials in your socks for specific purposes – warmer weather, cooler weather, wet weather, road versus CX, etc? 
We use polyester, nylon and cotton in our socks, with structured breathable panels at the right places for maximum breathability and comfort. Our Trail and Premium Trail socks are thicker in the foot area, which is mostly used by mountain bikers. Our Race and Premium Race socks are thinner in the foot area and preferred by road cyclists.
Do materials make a beneficial difference to athletes?
Yes it does, but it’s mostly personal preference.
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What is your design inspiration? The meaning behind your designs and patterns?
We continuously create new designs and samples. If it looks cool, we ask the public for their feedback and if they like it as well, we set it into production 🙂
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Anything new to look out for soon?
Yes definitely! Check our social media in October!

Sockturday: Sock Guy

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Well, you can’t get much more ubiquitous than Sock Guy. They are hands-down my favorite brand. Every single pair fits perfectly, washes well, holds up, and looks sharp. They have numerous original and collaborations that offer a broad range of design and color for endless days of #sockdoping. They care about what they make for you, and their growth and popularity prove that. Welcome to Sock Guy.

What is your favorite SockGuy sock/shoe combo? Or (if not cycling) what has been the most touching story you’ve received about your sock design?
Our favorite SockGuy sock/shoe combo is any SockGuy sock in any sort of shoe. Whether that is a cycling shoe, running shoe, boot, loafer, moccasin, clog, croc, oxford, slip on, wing tip, chelsea or boat shoe. As long as people are stoked and wearing comfy, good looking socks that is what we are all about.
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Do you believe in any height “rules” or do you prefer to let the design dictate the style?
All personal preference. Rules are made to be broken. That being said, a good crew length sock is wonderful for all types of cycling these days.
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How did SockGuy start? What made it successful, or what was the growth turning point?
SockGuy started in 1996 and started out as a custom sock manufacturer. People loved the fun funky designs that we made. From there, there was demand for a retail line. We’ve been going strong since! We’re celebrating our 20th anniversary this year.
-Do you feel that your size now allows you to work with groups you would not have been able to previously? We have had the pleasure of working with some amazing groups/teams. Too many local teams and clubs to name. But we are really proud to work with some of the best Women’s teams in cycling. We sponsor the LUNA Chix, Team Twenty16 Pro Cycling as well as the Raleigh/Clement Pro CX Team. We also make the Panda Power socks worn by Amanda Nauman:
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CXLA_151122__9234.jpgSide Note: Amanda Nauman is a CX racer from Southern California that competes on a national level now. I actually DO already own her Panda Socks and I practically live in them!

Why do you think cycling socks are so much fun to wear/design?
Socks in general are just fun! Socks are one of the easiest ways to add some flair to your kit/look with out going to wild if you don’t want too.
Do you feel that there is need for a women’s sock versus a men’s? Do you use a custom mold for women?
That’s a tough one. One thing that sets SockGuy apart from the other sock brands is our patent Stretch-to-Fit sizing system. It’s uni-sex and it’s literally big feet little feet. The materials we use in our socks allow us to do this and fit pretty much everyone very will with these two sizes.
Do you think you design with a woman in mind? What woman would that be? Do you have different demographics in mind when you design a sock or a collection?
Yes, absolutely. Our primary market is Cycling, so typically the women we are targeting are cyclists or athletes in general. We actually just finished sorting out our Fall ’16 line and that process took three women and four men to complete. We tried to get everyone’s perspective. The owner is a guy, so he gets final say, haha!
What types of mixed materials do you consider for the different athletes you serve? and why?
We offer three different materials and multiple “builds”. Our classic socks are made from Micro Denier Acrylic, our Wool socks are made from TurboWool and our SGX socks are made from a PolyPro blend. The second part of this question is tough. We really want people to try them all and see what suits them best. We don’t want to tell them what they like.
What is your design inspiration? The meaning behind your designs and patterns?
Anything and everything! We are based in SoCal so we have beach culture right down the street from our office. We just want to keep it fun for everyone.
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Kitsbow cycling sock by Sock Guy

Any releases to look out for this year?
Fall ’16 is about to drop just before InterBike.

 

Sockturday: Ursa Minor

12671720_971710189580730_4044020088678711479_o.jpgI first noticed this brand around the time of the tragic Orlando club shooting in the States. They had a wonderful message of positivity and love and just so happened to have a rainbow sock for purchase to show support for LGBT communities everywhere. But that’s not all they are. They are exploration-positive, outdoor-positive and on point with their message of “finding your own north” whatever that may be for you.

Welcome to Ursa Minor.

What is the history behind your brand? Ursa Minor also feels more exploration and adventure and perhaps less cycling, so how/why cycling socks?

We started Ursa Minor in late 2015 with the ultimate purpose is to make products in the US for exploration and adventure. One of the main focuses of the brand is cycling and socks were a natural fit for us. Most of our explorations and adventuring have been on bikes however we want to build products that are functional as much on a bike or trail as they are going out to a restaurant.

What is your favorite Ursa Minor sock/shoe combo?

I don’t really have a favorite sock/shoe combo. We try to keep our designs functional by using a color palettes that will not prohibit you from wearing our products with a shoe, kit or any garment.

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Do you adhere to cycling sock height rules or answer demand or function instead?

We don’t really follow of any height rules. We just want people to just be happy wearing our products.

Do you make your own socks or do you use another company to manufacture your designs?

 Our socks are all US made by Defeet. I have to give a shout out to Shane, Hope, Brad, Scott and Rob. They have really been extremely supportive and have worked with us on product development and have been instrumental in developing products that perform well for men and women equally.

Why do you think cycling socks are so much fun to wear/design?

Socks are awesome in the fact that there are so many players in the sock game. It seems like there are more and more options and companies showing up each month offering really unique designs and people seem really dig them. I personally love designing socks and garments that perform extremely well and look good to boot.  The beautiful thing about cycling socks is the fact that they can complete a kit and can be a focal point which can really express what you are feeling during that ride, hike or just simply hanging out.

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Do you really make a woman’s sock or simply market different colors and designs to women? Oftentimes, especially for smaller footed women the design is off when worn and there may be rubbing inside a shoe from seams that are not quite right.

We run unisex sizing and colorways right now at Ursa. One really great thing we have noticed in the market is we see men and women are wearing the same color ways and styles. If the design is solid it works for anyone. We also try to keep in mind how the design will be represented on multiple sizes and foot profiles.

Do you consider mixed materials in your socks for specific purposes – warmer weather, cooler weather, wet weather, road versus CX, etc? Do materials make a beneficial difference to athletes?

Absolutely! Our Hi-Vis Oso is engineered with COOLMAX® Ecomade in the body for moisture control and Cordura in the heels and toes for padding and enhanced durability. For colder weather we have a Thermolite East to West color-block sock which performs like wool in terms of warmth and has a lightweight feel with less bulk in the shoe and we have some time tested classic Wool designs coming down the pipe. Our Against the Grain and Sky Bear are thinner designs built on Defeet’s Aireator profile.

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Anything new for 2016 we should look out for? Any expansion of products to come?

In addition to new sock styles coming in 2016, we are working on some exciting stuff in the base layer arena as well as some riding apparel.

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Sockturday: Acht Supply

ACHT_LOGO-symAcht Supply is an Italian tech wear company making strong design prepared to ride. The beauty of Acht Supply, and why I am drawn to their products so much, is the simplicity of the graphic design in combination with the color choices. It’s a designer’s dream, really. A kind of “Why didn’t I think of that?!” moment that makes you think designing for cycling is so easy. It isn’t. These socks blend with your kit without overpowering your kit, if you know what I mean. But the design conveys style and strength, complimentary to your cycling lifestyle. Here’s what they said in their own words.

What is your favorite Acht Supply sock/shoe combo? 

We don’t have a specific sock/shoe combo, there are many amazing shoe brands out there and we love to see our products paired in the most original ways by our customers and fans all over the world!

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How did Acht Supply begin as a company? 

Acht Supply started from my willingness to combine my passion for cycling (and sports in general) and technical apparel; in 2012 we started making socks and apparel for us and our friends, and then it became a full-time job.

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 Do you adhere to the height rules or answer demand instead?

As regards socks height, we follow our own rules: in our opinion, the perfect height is never above the calf or below the ankle.

Do you make your own socks or do you use another company to manufacture your designs?

Acht Supply socks are entirely made by us and 100% made in Italy: from the first idea to the distribution and selling, passing through design, development and manufacturing.

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Why do you think cycling socks are so much fun to wear/design?

In Italy, socks are often an underestimated cycling accessory, but we feel they can really make a statement and we love to express our creativity in designing our products. However, we always combine aesthetics with comfort and performances, since we consider socks as one of the most important technical elements of a cycling kit.

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Why do you not offer a women’s sock different from a men’s? Oftentimes, especially for smaller footed women the design is off when worn and there may be rubbing inside a shoe from seams that are not quite right.

Thanks to the quality of our yarns, all Acht Supply models are conceived to guarantee the best fit to both women and men. Furthermore, we also offer customized socks for teams, and in order to deliver the best result to our clients, we develop our products and sizes according to their specific needs.

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Do you consider mixed materials in your socks for specific purposes – warmer weather, cooler weather, wet weather, road versus CX, etc? Do materials make a beneficial difference to athletes?

Materials are the most crucial element we take into consideration when designing socks: each material is suitable for a different objective and functionality. That’s why we pay the utmost attention to choosing the best materials available, because we know they will make a difference for anyone wearing our socks. For example, our Reflective Socks, which we just launched this winter, have been specifically designed with technical yarn and Merino wool to guarantee thermoregulation, breathability, and maximum comfort.

What is your design inspiration? Any meaning behind your designs and patterns?

I like to say that we never leave anything to chance, especially regarding designs and patterns: each of our patterns has a special meaning.

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Anything we can look forward to in 2016?

In 2016 we aim to expand our business not only in Italy (where we are based) and Europe, but also overseas. We will continue to research and test new materials and models, but also have many projects underway in the field of cycling apparel.