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Sock It To Me: In Praise Of An Evergreen Holiday Gift

Dec 7, 2019

It's the holiday gift for when you can't think of what else to give. Good for old, young, women, men, north, south — NPR even sells 'em! Socks. And they are having their moment. "Socks have gone through their ups and downs and have had very very many different moments in the fashion world, and there's certainly a resurgence today, as you have probably noticed," says Steven Frumkin, a dean at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. "People want to make a statement, and one of the nice ways of doing it is to have a pair of socks that says something."


Interview Highlights

On whether design students are paying more attention to socks

I think they are, I think for two reasons — one is ... they participate in the display of socks, and I think they also realize, as they've been reading and reading, that socks are a business, and one could go into that business because you've started a sock company, you've been part of a sock company, you've designed for a sock company, or you're in the business end of a sock company. So why not take the opportunity to participate in a fun product!

On who sets the sock trends

You know, that's interesting. There are many different people. Probably the most famous politician was our President 41, George Bush, who used to wear red socks, you might remember. Whoopi Goldberg, over the years, has worn all kinds of socks. There are also people who make a statement by not wearing socks — you may have seen [MSNBC contributor] Donny Deutsch on TV, drawing attention to his feet in a slightly different way.

On Scott's socks — burgundy with little blue dots, worn with a pinstripe suit

Okay, so you look like a clown! I'm sorry, you can cut that out if you want. You know, that's the beauty of socks — you're comfortable with it, makes you feel good, you're talking about it now, and it sounds like you put together an outfit that's colorful and subdued, but proper.

This story was produced for radio by Ian Stewart and Steve Tripoli, and adapted for the Web by Petra Mayer

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

It's the holiday gift for when you can't think of what else to give somebody - good for old, young, women, men, north, south. NPR even sells them - socks. And they're having their moment in the fashion world. Steven Frumkin is dean at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and joins us. Dean Frumkin, thanks so much for being with us.

STEVEN FRUMKIN: Thanks for having me.

SIMON: So socks are having their moment in the fashion world?

FRUMKIN: They are. Socks have gone through their ups and downs and have had very, very many different moments in the fashion world. And there's certainly a resurgence today, as you have probably noticed. People want to make a statement. And one of the nice ways of doing it is to have a pair of socks that says something.

SIMON: Yeah. Are students at design schools paying more attention to socks?

FRUMKIN: Well, I think they are. I think for two reasons. One is, I think, because they participate in the display of socks. And I think they also realize, as they've been reading and reading, that socks are a business. And one could go into that business because you've started a sock company. You've been part of a sock company. You design for a sock company. Or you're in the business end of a sock company. So why not take the opportunity to participate in a fun product?

SIMON: Who sets the trend these days when it comes to showing off socks?

FRUMKIN: You know, that's interesting. There are many different people. Probably the most famous politician was our president - 41 - George Bush. He used to wear red socks. You might remember. Whoopi Goldberg over the years has worn all kinds of socks. There are also people who make a statement by not wearing socks. You may have seen Donny Deutsch on TV drawing attention to his feet in a slightly different way.

SIMON: Dean, an important question.

FRUMKIN: Yes, sir.

SIMON: Cotton, wool, bamboo - what makes the best sock?

FRUMKIN: The best sock is the sock that's worn for the occasion. So if, in fact, it's the middle of the winter, you could probably wear a wool sock. But if it's the summertime, and you're playing tennis, you might want a cotton sock.

SIMON: I can't believe I'm telling you the kind of socks I'm wearing. But I do crave your opinion.

FRUMKIN: OK.

SIMON: Burgundy with little, tiny, blue pin dots.

FRUMKIN: OK. But what else are you wearing?

SIMON: (Laughter) I am wearing a pinstripe suit - black with white - silver-white pinstripes.

FRUMKIN: OK. So...

SIMON: And a blue shirt with white stripes and a red kind of holiday tie.

FRUMKIN: OK. So you look like a clown.

(LAUGHTER)

FRUMKIN: I'm sorry. You can cut that out if you want. No.

SIMON: No, no.

FRUMKIN: I think...

SIMON: It's too late. No, no, no.

FRUMKIN: It's too late.

SIMON: Besides, who would dispute it? Yes.

FRUMKIN: Yeah. So, you know, that's the beauty of socks. You're comfortable with it, makes you feel good. You're talking about it now. And it sounds like you put together an outfit that is colorful but subdued and proper.

SIMON: Oh, you've recovered from that nicely.

FRUMKIN: I did. I tried. You have a lot of control. You have the button to push me off the air.

SIMON: No. It's the people in the control room.

FRUMKIN: Oh, I see.

SIMON: And they've never heard a wiser statement in their life in that I look like a clown.

FRUMKIN: (Laughter).

SIMON: Steven Frumkin is a dean at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Thanks so much for being with us, Dean Frumkin.

FRUMKIN: My pleasure. Anytime. Thank you very much.

(SOUNDBITE OF JD MCPHERSON SONG, "SOCKS")

SIMON: I'm going to take my big floppy feet out of here and...

FRUMKIN: There you go.

SIMON: (Laughter).

FRUMKIN: You can start a whole new career now.

SIMON: Yes. I'll need it, too, after this interview.

FRUMKIN: (Laughter).

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOCKS")

JD MCPHERSON: (Singing) This is the worst gift I ever got. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.