Tina Li designed a pair of socks inspired by the UCLA trend of students swiping copious banana from the dining halls.
The socks, called “The Most APPEALING Crew Socks,” depict the yellow fruits lined up in rows.
The first-year pre-business economics student launched her sock company HapiThreads on April 2 and currently sells three different designs of crew-length socks on Etsy. Li said the brightly colored statement socks add an unexpected flair to many outfits and help individuals differentiate their fashion sense from their peers.
“I just really like socks,” Li said. “I think it adds a lot of character to your outfit.”
After browsing the internet for inspiration, where she found her idea for fried eggs and cat socks, Li said she described her ideas to an overseas supplier in China she found through an online retailer. The supplier drew the designs on a template, before sending samples to Li after making any desired changes. All of Li’s socks center on a specific theme with a clever title, such as “The Purrfect Pair,” featuring black and white cats.
Matthew Chung, a first-year chemical engineering student and one of Li’s sock models, said his banana socks are an unexpected conversation starter when meeting new people. Chung said people notice his socks more when he wears his pair designed by Li rather than when he wears plain white socks.
“People usually have the Nike Elite socks that are white or black but everyone’s like, ‘Those are really colorful, where’d you get them?’” Chung said.
Chung said shirts typically become the sole focal point of an outfit, but Li’s socks draw attention to the lower portion of the outfit. Because of Southern California’s warm climate, Chung said he can also wear shorts more frequently than in his home state of New York, which lets him fully display Li’s socks with sneakers or Vans.
As a college student, Li said she noticed her peers look for clothing to set themselves apart from others, especially those who prefer black or gray color schemes for the rest of their wardrobe. As someone who prefers neutral clothing herself, Li said her socks add a dash of color to an otherwise muted outfit.
Michael Xu, a friend of Li’s, photographed Li’s socks for her Etsy page. To highlight the socks during the photoshoot, Li’s friends acted as models and wore neutral colors to allow the bright socks to become the focus of the photographs, Xu said. One of his favorite designs is a fried egg pattern set on a turquoise background.
“Everybody eats eggs in the morning,” Xu said. “They’re almost childish in a sense.”
Xu said today’s generation is trend-oriented, wearing high-waisted jeans or popular brands like Vans, which is potentially why funny sock designs have become popular. People might see their friends wearing a new item like Li’s socks, which might prompt them to eventually partake in the trend themselves.
“Our generation likes radical things,” Xu said. “Whenever someone does something that’s out of the ordinary, our generation tends to be the most accepting towards that concept, and because of that, we kind of embrace it.”
Although she hopes to make her own sock designs a trend, Li said her main goal is to spread happiness through colorful fashion. HapiThreads only sells socks for now, but Li said she has considered expanding her inventory to include similarly colorful hats and scarves in the future.
“I associate bright colors with happiness,” Li said. “If you’re more happy, then you’re usually more confident.”