When Mark Hall’s other half kept borrowing his socks and leaving him with odd pairs he hit on a novel way to help all the other men in the same boat. Grant Woodward reports.
Every man knows the misery of rummaging around their sock drawer in the vain hope of finding a pair that actually match.
Mark Hall feels our pain and, to his eternal credit, he’s making it his mission to do something about it.
His new Yorkshire-based business is the answer to the prayers of chaps up and down the land who have seen their socks fall victim to wash day disasters, get swiped by their other half or simply do what most socks do – vanish into thin air.
His solution is a subscription service – called Socked – which despatches pairs of fresh new socks at regular intervals throughout the year, ensuring a ready supply is always at hand.
It’s a brainwave that came to him after his fiancee Anna kept raiding his sock drawer, leaving him walking round in mismatched pairs.
“It didn’t bother her, but it always annoyed me,” said Mark, from Ilkley. “One day I found myself wearing a pair of novelty Christmas socks – and it was the middle of July.
“Then I remembered a mate of mine who’s in the timber trade going to a business meeting and not getting the contract because they said they didn’t take him seriously for the simple reason he was wearing odd socks.
“I decided enough was enough. Something had to be done.”
Socked offers three levels of service – you can have four pairs of socks posted out each month, four pairs every three month or the same quantity sent out twice a year.
Prices range from £19 to £95 a year and there’s even the option of paying at regular intervals by direct debit.
Taking its cue from Henry Ford, those signing up to the service – at www.socked.co.uk – can choose any colour for their socks, so long as it’s black.
“The fact is that while men might go out and buy shoes or a pair of jeans they don’t really go out and buy socks,” said Mark, 33.
“The idea was to take the hassle out of it – which is why they only come in one colour and style. That way, if you do lose one, you don’t have to worry about the replacement matching up.
“At the end of the day, us blokes are pretty straightforward. All we want is to be able to find a clean pair of socks that match and that we can wear for both work and going out. Give us that and we’re happy.”
All the signs are that this simple approach is working.
Since its launch last month, the service has attracted around 400 subscribers – some of them from as far afield as America and New Zealand.
Originally setting his sights on a career in law, Mark dropped out just two terms into his degree course at Leeds Metropolitan University, saying he found it “tedious”.
With a background in digital marketing, he hopes to make Socked a big success.
“I’m pleased with the way it’s going so far and think there could be a lot of scope for this service in somewhere like America,” he said.
“The branding for Socked is all geared towards the idea of becoming a British gentleman and they seem to love that sort of thing over there so I’m hoping it will catch on.
“Men can be very hard to buy presents for – particularly blokes in their 30s and 40s because if they want something they tend to just go out and buy it themselves.
“I’m hoping people will see this as a good idea for a Christmas and birthday gift – and a far better one than the rubbish novelty socks men often get which often cost a packet and can only be worn once a year. This is the gift that keeps giving all-year round.”
So with Socked set to be a success, is Mark tempted to spread his wings and offer other subscription-based services?
“I definitely think there is quite a bit of scope there and we’re looking at a few things,” he says.
“One area I thought about was products for women but the trouble is that, unlike us men, they want to have an awful lot of choice. Then they will only buy something if it’s worn by Cheryl Cole or if four of their mates have recommended it.”