The History of Socks: From the Middle Ages to the 21st Century

The History of Socks

Doesn't that sound funny? The sock is a tube made of stretchable fabric that is open towards the leg. The tube, which is adapted to the leg and lower leg, is made of fine textile material. The introduction to the description of the sock on Wikipedia reads something like this.


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In fact, we humans don't give a damn about when and why we put on stockings. While you might be thinking about what to wear for casual or elegant clothes after your daily shower, the sock is completely forgotten. Isn't that unjustified? After all, the sock has a long tradition.

Today we show you the history of socks. In addition, we give you a small vision for the future.

The socks as a status symbol - far away from industrialization

Until the Middle Ages, stockings were, of course, knitted by hand. The first knitwear for the feet of people who had to work hard physically in the Middle Ages were found in Jutland.

Hard to believe - these stockings date back to 1500 BC. Even then, people knew that their feet had to be protected. How were the first socks found? In ancient Egyptian tombs, people discovered these models made of fabric for the feet. These socks date from around 500 AD. Of course, not everyone could afford to wrap up their feet warmly at the time. It was therefore a status symbol for the upper class to be allowed to wear stockings.

Looking for new socks?

Then have a look at the Online shop over, there are many beautiful models here!


The sock was considered a privilege for the rich. Above all, elegant women wore and knitted the socks. It was frowned upon at the time for men to be allowed to knit. In the Middle Ages, stockings and trousers together were considered a single piece of clothing. It was only much later that the stockings on the trousers were changed, since this fact seemed practical. Only gradually did stockings emerge as independent items of clothing. The usefulness of the sock was discovered more and more. You can also look at historical socks in various stocking museums. They are knitted with painstaking manual work. They are rightly considered an absolute rarity.

The socks of modern times - a small revolution

The breakthrough for the democratization of stockings came from the English Reverend William Lee. He managed to make knitting much easier. What was the reason for this little revolution? As early as 1561, the English Queen Elizabeth I was given black stockings. However, the noblewoman refused Lee the patent for the invention of the hand weaving chair. The Reverend William Lee then moved to England in 1589. He wanted to give his idea a promising start there, which he succeeded in doing. King Henry V supported the idea and financed a hosiery factory. The successful industrialization of socks production took its course.

Socks were mostly made of wool or silk. Step by step, the chair was successfully spread throughout Europe. Suddenly, it was effortless to produce socks quickly and in a standardized way. The unit cost per a pair of socks has been significantly reduced. Industrialization brought economic success. From then on, the production of socks increased inexorably. The pair of socks has long ceased to be a product for the upper class. Stockings became more and more common and enjoyed great popularity. Young and old alike could wear the pair of stockings made of wool or silk with enthusiasm. Socks were finally a product that every citizen wanted and could afford.


Looking for new socks?

Then have a look at the Online shop over, there are many beautiful models here!

The socks spread

Of course, this little "sock revolution" could still be expanded. The chair for the knitwear could still be technically improved and refined. At the beginning of the 19th century, Reverend William Lee's invention was significantly modified: the first round chairs were used to make socks. What did that make easier? Now a largely purely mechanical production could be guaranteed. This technical progress led to an economic development that was both a blessing and a curse: Many homeworkers became unemployed because the Rundstuhl took over their work. On the other hand, citizens of all walks of life could now wear socks. Socks became cheaper, so the hosiery fashion spread in many households. Soon, women's socks and men's socks were being manufactured. Even children's socks were no longer a rarity. The times when only the children of rich citizens wore socks were finally over.

The industrially produced hosiery fashion could gradually be made of different materials. There were socks for women and men made of wool and cotton. Children's socks were one of those items of clothing that every child wanted to have in their closet. What was unimaginable many years ago has now become established: Socks were a common item of clothing. They were warming, functional and modern. Various materials have been processed over time. Mass production slowly increased. So socks became the first industrially manufactured garment that everyone wanted to wear.

Technical progress - an innovation for fashion

What does that time in the history of socks and today's 21st century have in common? Progress shapes.

While we rediscovered the internet about 20 years ago, today many people order their socks online. You have long been able to order the best quality goods in various stockings online. As you can see, technical progress creates proximity to every citizen. On the other hand, the profit margin is calculated more and more narrowly. As a result, there are high-quality differences in sock fashion.

How convincing are socks in the 21st century?

Today there are sports socks, tennis socks, functional socks, business socks, baby socks and much more. The different materials leave nothing to be desired. You will find socks that regulate perfectly the moisture in the shoe, or socks that make babies happy. There is practically no dream that remains unfulfilled when it comes to sock fashion.

If we look at the progress of the past 300 years, we are far from finished. Nevertheless, you can be sure that we still have an exciting future ahead of us when it comes to socks.