How Socks are Becoming Mainstream Fashion Category?

In an exclusive conversation, Cyrus Dastur, Co- founder, The Bombay Socks sheds light on the growth strategy of the company.
Cyrus Dastur

The socks category has been evolved immensely over the years. How do you trace the journey of socks category as the basic essential to fashion accessory?

Trivial though usually looked upon, 'Socks' is definitely an important part of a person's wardrobe. Still, since long the segment was not taken to be vital. This segment within clothing has never got its due respect for many years, but I think that outlook has to be changed, and to an extent it is changing now. Funky socks are like the pocket squares of the digital era: a subtle, but important, sartorial detail that signals membership to a certain culture. So, it would only make sense for this trend to turn a fashion accessory into a statement.

Kindly shed light on your entrepreneurial journey. How did you think of initiating retail venture? And, why you do only socks? Also, shed light on initial challenges?

Our journey has been a long but enjoyable one. A close friend, now my business partner, and I have always wanted to disrupt the accessories market and after about 3-4 months of research and 3 years in a dead-end job, it just came to me. Socks! So I sat down with Bob, going on and on about the industry and all the research I've done after quitting my job. Not once giving him any clue about what the product actually was. He was probably thinking something in tech.. Who isn't right? And then I said it - "Socks, Bob, socks!!" I could see the excitement building up in him.. And without batting an eyelid, he said, "Socks it is!" That's pretty much how it started. I had about 2-3 ideas for various accessory products but choose to start of with socks given the market scenario and growth possibilities.

It just seemed like the right time to jump into socks.. Literally! It's been a year and a half since we launched and it's going great! Our customers love us and the product. But if I had to pick some key challenges we faced initially, I would have to say marketing and logistics. Though we've ironed those wrinkles out pretty soon. We've been bootstraping our company all along. Putting in our own money as and when required since we decided not to approach VC's and keep it simple. Have more control. More money would definitely help but we've managed just fine with limited budgets and creative minds.

Kindly shed light on your current distribution in the Online as well Offline space? Going forward what are the plans to scale up the distribution? Are you working with any modern retailer as the part of distribution strategy?

So our current distribution is mainly online sales though our website. We did give ecom platforms a 6 month trial in the first year but that didn't do well at all given the dilution which takes place on there. We soon realised that through our marketing campaigns, we were getting 30-40% more sales through our own platform so best to keep focussing on that. So that's what we did. Over the next few months, we'll be getting into retail as well as offer international shipping since we've been getting a lot of messages from people abroad about our socks and unique designs. You'll have to watch this space to see what we get up to regarding scaling up our distribution.. Exciting times indeed!

Have you done any brand licensing collaboration for any national or international IP such as Disney, Marvel, Snoopy amongst others. If yes, then provide the details, how do you leverage out of this strategy ?

Nope. Not yet. But licensing is on the cards too and we'll be coming out with some amazing designs soon too.

Are you bootstrap or have raised any sorts of funds so far? Or plan to?

So far only bootstrapped. Some amazing opportunities have come our way already and we're in the process of developing those currently but I can't reveal too much right now.

Who do you see as your competition within same space?

 I've always been of the idea that healthy competition is great! We all need it - in our personal as well as professionals lives. For Bombay Socks I would say that we're up against brands like Zara, H&M, Happy Socks and maybe a few others. That being said, the quality of our yarn is far superior since we actually focus not only on designs but functionality and comfort as well.

Kindly highlight your best sellers along with starting and exiting price points?

To be honest, after our year ending review, we've pretty much sold equal amounts of mostly all designs. But if I had to pick favorites, they are the Japanese Wave Sock, the California Roll Sock, Shark Fins, all the solid coloured rib socks too. Our current price point is 499 but with the sale running we're at 366 for the crew socks currently. But not for long! We've found our niche and we're happy with that. But there are plans afoot to disrupt the lower end market as well.

According to you, what are the latest consumption trends in the socks category?

From whatever we've been noticing through our research and sales - our customers can't seem to get enough of our socks and they've been making requests for different types of socks and new designs as well. Product development does take time as we are quite thorough on that front. Our highest selling product on our website is our 3-pack option which let's customers choose any 3 socks of their choice and add's a discount to that as well. We also have customers requesting to up the packs to 6 and even 9 socks so as to gift people socks on various occasions.

At last, kindly highlight your growth plans?
 Our growth plans are simple. We plan to attack the retail sector systematically over the course of this year maybe even going into a brick and mortar sock experience zone among other accessories we're planning to get into in the near future. Our main goal is to educate customers about good quality socks and along the way also give back to the community in terms of CSR initiatives which we will launch soon.


Cyrus Dastur