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Articles on designing your own custom merch, growing your brand, and managing manufacturing as a small business.

Blast From the Past – Custom Tube Socks


Custom socks are all the rage today, and tube socks maximize your sock designing space!

Just as high-top shoes are making a comeback (Converse Chuck Taylor, Vans Sk8-Hi, Dr. Marten, etc.) tube socks are seeing a revival too! Tube socks are the perfect match if you want to wear high-top shoes. Besides, if you want to make custom socks, tube socks give you more space to show off your design than any other type of sock.

women sitting down wearing tube socks

The History of Tube Socks

Tube socks were invented in 1967 by the Nelson Knitting Company, located in Rockford, Illinois. The Nelson Knitting Company never got a patent for their invention, however, so the tube sock was soon copied by other companies! 

These long, “tube”-style socks, known as the “one-size-fits-all sock,” were initially marketed as sportswear or athleisure wear. They became extremely popular in the 70s and 80s, especially among basketball and soccer players. Given their long length, tube socks were the perfect sock to pair with the short shorts common at that time.

What Makes a Tube Sock? 

Not all socks are tube socks, naturally! A tube sock is shaped like a tube, instead of contoured into the shape of a human foot. True tube socks have no heel, and instead of a reinforced toe, the end of the sock is closed with a seam. The same company that founded the tube sock (Nelson Knitting), created a machine that specifically creates tube socks, and that same original tube sock machine design is used today! Traditional tube socks were faster to make than other types of socks, offered a one-size-fits-all design, and often featured colored stripes of some sort.

Today, tube socks (including those at The/Studio, known as “knee-high” socks) are contoured slightly for added comfort with a specially fabricated heel and toe. You get the same classic style of the tube sock, without the drawbacks in comfort!

Tube Socks in Pop Culture 

Tube socks were made iconic by a variety of pop culture figures, from basketball stars like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to actresses like Farrah Fawcett and Raquel Welch. The world’s most famous nerd, Steve Urkel, wore tube socks as part of his standard attire in Family Matters, and tube socks were also featured in movies like Risky Business and American Pie, not to mention the legendary That 70’s Show.

Tube socks were worn by the Red Hot Chili Peppers during one of their most iconic performances (although on their feet…), and were also made popular in fashion by the Harajuku Girls and numerous fashion brands. Today shows like Stranger Things are catalyzing a revived interest in 80s fashion and culture, and tube socks are following along with it!

Create Your Own Custom Tube Socks With The/Studio 

You don’t just have to leave tube socks to the superstars. You can create your own version of tube socks with help from The/Studio. Because tube socks are so large, you can apply designs of all kinds to the outside of your socks. Remember, even if you don’t have a design, you can work with one of our Creative Specialists for FREE to create a unique design based on your personal vision. 

We have tons of special add-ons (like retail packaging, custom thicknesses, cushioning, ribbing, and a variety of pack sizes) to make your tube socks retail-ready. 

When you work with The/Studio, you’ll enjoy the following: 

  • Low minimum order quantities 
  • Rapid shipping 
  • Top-of-the-line quality 
  • Superb customer service 

What’s not to like? Let’s get started!

 Create Your Tube Socks Today





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