What’s happened to white cycle socks, the epitome of one-size-fits-all sporting apparel?
The humble cycling sock served us well, all in white, just touching the ankle bone, just enough to show off a tanned leg if you were lucky. All the same and living quite happily in colonies in kit bags.
And now look what’s happening. They’ve gone the same way as the poor old casquette cloth cap, and cycling is much the worse for it.
From plain white socks, trade teams started to brand their kit. Fair enough, sponsorship pays the bills. But socks were still white, still ankle-bone length, with plain branding added. Replicas became a badge of honour and a show of support for your favourites. We could live with that.
Then Lance landed. In American sporting parlance, Lance “went long” and ‘ankle’ socks were now mid-calf length.
Anyone who wears calf-length white socks usually pairs them with checked-pattern shorts in rather large sizes. And they we were watching the peloton whizz past in long socks. Bad enough on professionals, absolutely vile on amateurs.
Designers gained encouragement and eyed an opportunity to add more branding as socks got longer and colours became bolder. Brands, messages, stripes, stars, logos, novelties, personalisation, neon colours, where would it all stop?
From the ‘1980s Madness reunion gig’ vibe of long whites socks, cycling even survived the quirky Argyle socks of the Garmin team. They were different, they had their fans, they provided a talking point. And they were generally patterned on white socks.
But then we came to a new low as (proper) cycling embraced the ‘back to school’ look and black socks arrived. Blame mountain bikers, they’d been doing it for years.
Grudgingly tolerated on a pro (you can always ignore the feet and concentrate on the bike, the gearing or the scenery), black socks did not do justice to the light-blue legs of amateurs.
What next, knee-highs? Then over-the-knee like a la-di-da European footballer? Let’s get back to basics, ankle-bone only, in any colour you like so long as it’s white.
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