Perhaps it was the breeding horses, or white Kentucky states emblazoned across a bright blue background, but chances are you've spotted one of the playful designs from Southern Socks upon the feet the local best dressed.
Launched in 2016, the company is part of Lexington-based Kentucky for Kentucky, known for its Y'all apparel, fried-chicken scented candles, and Kentucky Kicks Ass merchandise.
It all started with around 300 pairs of blue-and-white Kentucky socks, said Whit Hiler, a partner at Kentucky for Kentucky and Southern Socks along with Griffin VanMeter.
"They just sold out like that. Then we did a thousand, and those sold out. Then we did the Y’all socks. We were kind of like: 'Man, socks.' We all like fun socks and everyone else does."
There are now close to 50 Southern Socks designs sold for $12 each in 258 retailers across the South, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. One of the first stores outside Kentucky to carry the brand was White's Mercantile in Nashville.
The back story of the merchandise from a small Kentucky-based company is one of the draws, said Hannah Peterson, sales associate at a White's Mercantile in Franklin, Tenn. just outside Nashville.
"We just love supporting them, being a small Southern company that makes good products," she said. "One of our top items we sell are the Tennessee flag socks and the Y'all socks. We have a hard time keeping them in stock."
Southern Socks plays up to state pride with designs featuring flags of Southern states, team colors and Southern pastimes such as hunting and fishing. While socks are manufactured at a California factory, design work takes place in Lexington.
Erick Moore, creative director for Kentucky For Kentucky and Southern Socks uses software to design the socks, creating templates to send to the factory in a process that takes six to eight weeks, from checking out samples to placing an order.
Two styles — dress casual, and athletic — are made of a cotton tri-blend with rayon for stretch.
The sock designs are always changing, with old designs retired and new styles introduced. Current patterns include a BBQ sock featuring a charcoal grill and sweet tea socks covered in cups of the southern staple. Perfect for Father's Day in June, one of the top sock holidays.
"Fourth of July is a big one for us too," said Moore. "People like to be head to toe red, white, and blue."
More shopping news
▪ The Market 301 is back this weekend for an extended two-day run at a new location. The pop-up shopping event featuring local vendors is 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Limestone Hall, the former Fayette County Courthouse at 215 East Main Street. Admission is free.
▪ On Sunday beauty retailer Cos Bar will celebrate National Cancer Survivor Day by donating 10 percent of all proceeds to the MD Anderson Cancer Center Moon Shots program. This will include all 19 other stores including the Lexington store at The Summit at Fritz Farm, and online.