Why are socks so important to those experiencing homelessness?
Socks! The highest requested item by homeless charities and those living on the street. Socks get grubby real fast and none of us want to have to reuse a dirty pair, yet when rivalled with the high demand, the supply of donated socks has become scarce. At OutsideIn, thanks to research from our charity connections and our ‘Wear One Share One’ concept, we get to innovate and create the best quality giving products. So, here it is, our very latest addition to the collection ... OutsideIn socks!
So, Why Socks?
We all love that feeling of opening a fresh new pair of socks. They’re a vital part of our wardrobes, we wear them everyday and think nothing of it. Here’s a fun fact: in the 10th century, having socks was a sign of social status yet today they have become a commodity, so much so that very little thought is given when we buy new pairs.
However, one of the most requested items from our partnered homeless charities across the UK and Ireland is socks. Unlike t-shirts and jackets, socks over time get dirty and can smell really easily. Whilst it may seem simple, having a fresh pair of socks to put on your feet after washing them is a comfort that we believe everyone should be able to have, especially those who are homeless.
We Challenge Society
For those of you who have been following our story, a big part of the company is challenging society, whether that be through our giving concept or creating a brand that challenges the status quo by saying ‘Are you willing to be part of a brand that people on the streets are wearing?”. It’s simple. We believe that whether you have a home or are homeless, we all have equal value and worth, so every giving product is engineered to help bridge the gap between society and those who are homeless, as well as be practical for those who are homeless.
So, we went about it the same way for the socks. From our idea to your feet.
During our giving back day at Christmas and every week, our street team have been handing out various socks and doing their research to see what makes a sock a good sock for people who are homeless. The journey began last April when the team visited a potential manufacturer in Turkey. What they found was a great working relationship with the team out there, and for us, working toward a completely transparent supply chain is extremely important and this took us one step closer for this new product.
Christabel, who’s currently leading our fashion, stepped into the role come October during the design process. This was a first for her as designing socks wasn’t exactly in the job description! Learning the sock knit production process and the pains of communication across time zones became a vital part of each day for three months until we had the final piece. We found colour was a huge factor, with preference going to black socks as they could look fresher for longer. It was also important that the socks are at least 80% cotton, as this allows greater ventilation. With such a diverse group of people purchasing our socks and receiving them on the streets, a big focus for us as a team was creating a “One size fits all” sock. That’s where polyamide (18%) and elastane (2%) come into play, helping not only to increase durability, but to ensure that extra stretch for whether you are a size 3 or size 12 (fingers crossed they fit your feet).
The ethical sourcing of every new product and working on those that could be better is a priority for all of us at OutsideIn, making the work, love and meaning put into every sock that bit more meaningful for us as a small company taking an ambitious leap.
Socks that give back
Do we feel that at OutsideIn we have created the 'perfect sock?’ No. It’s a learning game, with constant trials, innovations and always moving forward to create the best products for those who are homeless. We love putting on fresh pairs of socks, so the fact that every purchase you buy we give you an identical pair to hand to someone who is homeless means they get to experience it just as you do! It’s the core of who we are. It’s not that the product in any way ends homelessness, but it does go a long way to help start a conversation or let those who are homeless know their worth, and that they deserve the best quality with the best designs (even if we are slightly biased).
In terms of innovation, this is only the beginning for us. Over the past few months the team has been working hard on some exciting new designs and prototypes for our giving products, which we hope to unveil as part of our Summer and Winter launches. Streetwear is constantly changing, and we want to be leaders not only in fashion, but what is just as important is that we lead the way to innovative products that give back to those in society that need to know their lives matter.
Thanks for your continued support in helping the OutsideIn movement spread across the globe. We are just getting started.
The Oi Team
If you are part of a homeless charity and would love to receive some of our giving products to share with those who are homeless in your area, we would love to connect. Get in touch with our Head of Social Impact, Dani to find out more of how you can get involved.
Over 55,000 products donated so far. Help us grow the movement
The OutsideIn Socks