January 11, 2016

Wizards Socks

Yes, this is a blog post about socks. Deal with it. There's probably some shameless product endorsement somewhere in here too. Well, actually, there definitely sort of is.

This year, for the first time ever, the NBA is allowing a clothing manufacturer to add their logo to a component of the official NBA uniforms. This has never happened before. Seriously. Look on an NBA jersey or shorts during a game and you won't find any Adidas logo anywhere in sight. It's deliberate. The NBA has steadfastly resisted clothing manufacturers branding the league's uniforms. I'm not talking about the Swingman or Replica jerseys and shorts you can buy in the gift store at arenas or online. I mean the real deal on-court jerseys. Among the four major sports in this country, the NBA is the only one whose uniforms are logo-less.

Until this year. And the logo is not on the jerseys or the shorts or the headbands or anything else above the knees. It's on the socks. Yep, the socks. Now, in case you are wondering...shoes don't count as part of the uniform since players are permitted to wear whatever footwear they choose. And yes, I know the bottom of players' shorts often extend below the knee (except for DeAndre Jordan who seems intent on taking at least one step towards the '80s short shorts); stop nitpicking.

The company that makes all 30 NBA teams' socks this year is Stance. They are a fairly new company (founded in 2009) and all they make is socks. Their logo is pretty subtle. It's a simple square diamond with an "X" through it. It's so simple that if you even notice it on the official on court socks, you might not think it's a logo. But I guess all logos sort of start out that way. The first time Nike's swoosh was applied to a piece of clothing, it must have seemed like something other than a logo too. Now if it seems like a big step for a relative newcomer to the clothing industry to insist on their logo being included, it's probably a sign of things to come. The All-Star game uniforms this year feature the KIA logo as an advertisement and that might just be the start. Don't worry Adidas, you'll probably get yours on there soon.

So why am I writing about socks in the NBA? I mean, who cares anyway, right? Well, I care and I'm writing about them because I love the addition of designed socks to the NBA uniform. Prior to this year, players opted to wear one of a few solid, NBA logoman branded socks. Players choice seemed to the be the rule here, not only in terms of color but length. The result was a complete disintegration of the uniform below the knees. That's now all changed. And I love it. And that's why I'm writing about socks.

The designs that Stance has rolled out, I think, serve as perfect complements to the already in place NBA uniforms. Of course, I love the Wizards home socks the best because I think our home unis are the best in the league. The horizontal striping on the home socks mirrors the tops of our jerseys perfectly: a large red band over a smaller white band, an even smaller blue band and a larger white field. I'm less enthusiastic about the road socks, but then again, I'm less enthusiastic about our road unis, although the genius of the mostly blue road socks is that they harmonize well with the primary red jerseys (which have too much red in my opinion) and our alternate blue tops (which still need a white band to make them perfect). Good job on this one.

The thing that impresses me most of all about Stance, though, is the obvious pride they take in sock making and in the clients they are serving. Their website includes a diagram describing the anatomy of sock, which is just awesome. Their product pages for each team (the company makes more than just NBA socks, including some killer Star Wars socks) also show a concern for a connection to the history of the game. And they are so detailed that they didn't just come up with one description per team. The home and road descriptions tell a little different story.

A couple of years ago, I started buying Wizards socks. I figured why not? I have every other sort of Wizards branded apparel I could find. Might as well have some socks to wear to the games to make myself feel like an extra super duper Wizards fan. I started with the old blue, black and bronze hideous Wizards-logo socks and then last Christmas (courtesy of my amazing parents) graduated to the new red, white and blue with still hideous Wizards-logo footwear. And I literally wear these thing to every game I go to where I'm not wearing shorts or work clothes. I have to be committed after all.

So, the roll out of the Stance socks could not go ignored by me and I once again asked Santa for a pair for Christmas. Stance makes two grades of socks for the NBA fan: the official on court sock (with a  retail price of $28! Yikes!) and the consumer version (with a more reasonable $16 price tag). I opted for the cheaper edition, figuring handing over $28 for a pair of socks was just too rich for my (or in this case, Santa's) blood. I picked the road version of the socks because they have the Wizards' unity hand logo on them as opposed to the home version which sports no Wizards branding at all other than the pattern matching our jerseys.

I have to say I love these things. As a sock they are incredibly comfortable. They are warm and fluffy without being too thick and they don't cut off the circulation to my feet the way some socks do. I'm so impressed by Stance backing up what's on their website (which could seem like a whole lot of mumbo jumbo) with a comfortable and well-made product. In fact, I love them so much that I opted to grab an additional couple of pairs of our home socks ($16 price again of course) for myself after I became besotted with the pair Santa brought me.

In wearing my new socks and looking over the website, it's easy to see why the NBA picked these guys. Great job! I'm tempted by the Wall and Beal graphic socks, but maybe I'll hold out for those a bit longer.

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