The highest concentration of sweat glands in the human body is in the feet.

Do you really know why you are wearing socks?


Let’s go through some history.

Our ancestors used animal skin wrapped around their feet for protection from the external elements. The ancient Greeks used “Piloi” and Romans created “Udones”.

The history of socks© The Trustees of The British Museum

 

In the medieval ages socks appear as luxurious goods, hand crafted by experts for the wealthy, who would wear them as status symbol as well as to keep warm and absorb sweat. 

From the medieval age to the 1588AD, socks price starts to go down and, even if silk and cotton are still price-prohibitive for most people, thick wool starts to become affordable.

However, we need to wait until 1589AD for the invention of the flat knitting machine to reach mass production and bring the costs down. Another great benefit of this machine is the smaller diameter of the yarn that can be used, which translates to finer socks.

flat knitting machine - the history of socks

 

Later, on the 19th century, a circular knitting machine is invented, that produce a seamless cylindrical piece of fabric, compared to the flat knitting machine that produces a seam at the back of the sock.  Obviously, it still has to be joined at the toe and heel area.

vintage circular sock knitting machine - the history of socks

 

In the 20th century, nylon and other artificial materials, appear into the market, changing the sock industry as superfine socks can be produced. However, they make your feet sweat, defeating socks main purpose.

We now see continuous research and development of new techniques to create socks made with natural fibres that are finer and finer and increase comfort. 

So why do we really wear socks? From the initial purpose of protecting our feet from external elements, we transitioned to using them for protecting us from an internal one: sweat.

Check for future articles where we will discuss the characteristics of superior quality socks.

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