Socks have been used from earliest time in history to provide protection to the feet. Warm and durable, knitted or woven socks offer a few basic necessities for those who wear them. Legs stay warmer. Socks are used to protect feet from blisters and sores caused by sweat.
How were the first stockings developed, and what prompted the change from that design to today’s socks? Throughout history, stocking developments followed advances made in industry, machinery, and technology.
At first …
The first socks were wrapped in animal skins. These primitive stockings were pulled together at the ankle. The Greeks passed from these first socks to socks made of matted animal hair and the Romans went further with cloth and leather. Whether or not these early socks were considered comfortable is probably hard to judge, but they played a vital role in protecting the feet from rough ground and frigid temperatures.
Socks Become A Symbol Of Prosperity
By 1,000 AD, socks, and ideology, had progressed to the point where they were being used to symbolize wealth. Colorful cloths are tied around the legs and then secured with garters. This configuration sets the wearer above others in the community. The distinction between sock-wearers and non-sock-wearers became even clearer during the fifth century when priests started wearing socks to symbolize purity.
Tools for Displaying Personal Style
Since the 1500’s, socks began to play an important role in style. Pieces of decorative fabric are woven together to create distinctive patterns that express individuality. In some civilizations, the pattern is used to represent family or political affiliation.
Printed stockings also made their first appearance during this century. Amid other changes, stocking lengths have also begun to vary, from calf-length to thigh-high stockings, and more in between.
The Ever-Changing Industry and the Invention of the Weaving Machine
From their undeveloped early days as wrapped animal skins, stockings have worked their way up to being a symbol of status and individuality. During the 1500s, another important change would change the course of stockings.
This drastic change came to the stocking world in 1589 when William Lee invented the loom. What used to be a painstaking process done by hand can be completed in no time with a loom. Lucky men and women quickly got their own looms and began making all kinds of clothing, hosiery, and household furniture.
Fast forward four centuries and the mechanical loom brought mass-marketed socks to the world. Since then, nylon, argyle, and other stocking favorites have become symbols of their era. Socks in recent history have played a role in school uniforms, to enhance athletic performance, and as a way to contribute to war movements.
Today Socks are available in a variety of fabrics and fabric combinations. Colors, sizes, and patterns varied as the people who wore them. After nylon was introduced to the hosiery industry, blends of fabrics such as acrylic, spandex, polyamide and polyester brought new changes and advances that continue to influence socks.
Modern socks are found on high fashion runways and sold in convenience stores. They may be classic or trendy. They may be chosen for functional purposes or to create a trendy style out of a basic outfit. What does the future hold for socks? Only time will tell.
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