Finding clothes that are fun, sustainable, comfortable and affordable can be really hard. As you probably know, fast-fashion has become a pandemic in and of itself that has important consequences on the environment and the people who are forced to work in deplorable conditions, so I think it’s really important to find brands that are transparent and sustainable - one piece of clothing at a time. Happy Socks is a company that aims to spread happiness by turning something as basic as socks into a fun and creative piece. It has quickly become a very well-known brand that manufactures high-quality socks that now can be found in over 10.000 stores. I was pleasantly surprised to find that they are not only incredibly creative, but also making an effort to be sustainable and transparent about their practices.
The Tokyo Pop Socks from the limited David Bowie edition that re-imagine the iconic jumpsuit Bowie first wore onstage in 1973, are made of 86% cotton, 12% polyamide, and 2% elastane. As the company itself acknowledges, each step of the supply chain must be carefully evaluated in order to minimize the environmental and social hazard. Something I like about their sustainability report is that they provide graphs showing the percentage of materials used in every type of socks. However, the materials used have important environmental and social consequences. For example, cotton, which is the main material used, requires large amounts of water and is usually grown using fertilizers and pesticides. While they do use organic cotton for the kids’ collections, this is not done for the adults’ sections, which is definitely a downside. Secondly, elastane is a non-biodegradable material that has been pointed out by the Higg index to be contributing heavily to global warming due to the use of fossil fuels. Lastly, polyamides are made from petrochemicals and are also non-biodegradable. The manufacturing process of this materials creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse that is 310 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. While they could find more sustainable alternatives to these materials, they seem committed to make small steps towards minimizing their impact. For example, they carefully plan production per store in order to avoid overproductions, use organic cotton in the majority of the kids’ collections, have a sales policy for all employees, and they sell all unsold products at seasonal sales and outlets.
The suppliers they work with must sign the Happy Socks Certification Letter of Raw Cotton, which states that the cotton is not produced in Uzbekistan, due to human rights violations in the country. Most of their suppliers are also certified in Organic Content Standard (OCS), which verifies the presence and amount of organic material in a product, and the Global Organic Textile (GOTS), which “covers all aspects of the production of all natural fibres of organic status including textile processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling , exportation, importation and distribution.” Furthermore, all suppliers must sign the Happy Socks Restricted Substance List (RSL) in order to make sure that all products are harmless health-wise.
Something I really like about Happy Socks is that they are transparent with how they make their products, providing even a map with each country involved in the sourcing of the products. While this is a great thing, they seem to be sourcing their materials from quite a few countries (Turkey, China, Portugal, UK, Peru, Italy, France, Sweden, Australia, Latvia, Estonia, Hong Kong, Serbia, Finland, USA, and Singapore) which inevitably increases their carbon emissions, although the majority of their suppliers are located in Turkey and China.
Happy Socks seems devoted to providing a safe and sustainable working environment, which is why all suppliers must sign the Happy Socks Code of Conduct, to make sure that sustainability and responsibility are put at the forefront of their operations. The Code of Conduct is readily available on the website and ensures voluntary employment, no discrimination in employment, fair living wages, hours of work that are not excessive, no child labour, emergency equipment readily available anywhere, that all suppliers are BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) and OEKO-Tex certified, and the OEKO-Tex 100 standard (which ensures that products are free from from any hazardous chemicals.) To guarantee that these values are upheld, the Happy Socks Code of Conduct is enforced through inspections and various auditing tools.
Finally, gender equality is also at the heart of Happy Socks operations, which is visible in their yearly reports. For example, in 2019, 55% of managerial positions were occupied by women, and they also guarantee fair and equal pay for equal work for men and women.
Happy Socks was founded in 2008 by Mikael Söderlindh and Viktor Tell in Sweden. Today, Happy Socks is available in 90 countries and can be found in over 10.000 boutiques. With that said, it is overall a great brand that is transparent about all aspects of production, aiming to continuously improve in each of them. For example, their main goals by 2030 is to reduce carbon emissions by 30% and to use 100% recycled or sustainably sourced materials. Them being sincere with what could be improved makes me believe that they are genuinely trying to act responsibly and put in the work to become more sustainable.