The evolution and history of the humble sock

It’s time we show the humble sock the appreciation it deserves. They’ve been keeping toes warm for the best part of two millennia. We’ll repeat that. Two millennia. The oldest known pair of socks date alllll the way back to 350AD. That’s pretty mind-blowing, right?

Started at the bottom, no we’re here

Cavemen were believed to have wrapped their feet in leather and leaves – if you can even call that a sock. The Ancient Greeks upped the game a bit and used tangled animal hair to make socks called ‘piloi’ and the Romans wore socks made of cloth called ‘udone’.

In our opinion, knitted socks were the game-changer. The earliest pair of knitted socks date back to somewhere between 300AD and 500AD and originated from Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. They were bright red and separated at the toe – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle style – so they could be worn with sandals. So don’t let anyone ever tell you socks and sandals weren’t ever cool.

These are the bad boys in question. They are on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London if looking at old socks is your thing.

Photograph via Victoria and Albert Museum.

The Egyptians had some serious style

But wait, there is more. Stripes were cool before we knew it too. During an excavation that took place during 1913–1914 in the Egyptian city of Antinoopolis, a small child’s sock was discovered dating back to 300AD. Its partner was never found. A struggle we know all too well.

The lone sock ended up in one of the collections at The British Museum in London and new research has revealed its multi-coloured design. Modern imaging technology was used to analyse the dyes in the sock and revealed that the sock was made using seven different hues of wool in various shades of red, blue and yellow woven together in a stripy pattern. Turns out the ancient Egyptians were rocking some seriously styling threads 2000 years ago!

Thankfully, socks have come a long way since those days but it’s clear that colourful socks have stood the test of time and continue to be a winner. So be like the ancient Egyptians and dress your ankles in something fancy. Check out our full range here and get shopping.