Socks are in. Not the plain ones we've been wearing for centuries, but colorful argyles, cheeky knee-high socks decorated with everything from bicycles and mustaches to Hello Kitty and Doctor Who.
So it's no surprise that a Fresno woman would start her own line of socks.
Hottie Hosiery was launched in late December. For now, the business is mostly online at www.hottiehosiery.co. (And it's ".co," not ".com.") Owner Kristie Crossen is beginning to market to local stores and her socks are for sale at one San Francisco boutique.
She has more than 40 designs, ranging from pink blossoms on a white over-the-knee sock to understated black crew socks with lips hidden near the scalloped top. Prices range from $10.99 for the crew socks to $16.99 for over-the-knee socks.
Women — from teens to 30-somethings usually — are wearing creative socks peeking out of knee-high boots. Or, like Holly Madison, of Playboy fame, who pairs denim skirts with knee-high socks and tennis shoes. Runways and fashion ads are increasingly showing off crew socks worn with heels or over-the-knee socks worn over tights with skirts.
And for women, but especially men, wearing colorful socks under dress pants in the office lets them sneak a little creativity into a work wardrobe.
"It's so cool when you see a guy cross his legs and his socks have bicycles on them," Crossen says.
There's a booming sock business happening online at places like JoyOfSocks.com and at chain retailers. Local shoppers are also getting them at Kwirkworld, Gazebo Garden's gift shop and at Twee, which sells online and at special events.
The Hottie Hosiery socks are designed by Crossen's brother, Craig Bruno of Fresno, with her help. They're made at a mill on the East Coast. Crossen felt it was important to have the socks made in the U.S.
Local customers can skip the shipping fee by arranging pickup with Crossen through the Hottie Hosiery Facebook page.
Customers — say a team, or a company — can also order custom socks through Hottie Hosiery if they place a minimum order of six dozen.
Crossen is a "mompreneur."
"It wasn't that I was always passionate about socks," says Crossen, who has 7-year-old and 10-year-old girls.
The Hoover High School and Fresno State grad sold medical equipment for 14 years before deciding to leave the industry. She had seen other moms start businesses with products they created, and she settled upon socks, a product that makes people smile.
"That's what's fun about it," she says. "Finding people who have … drawers and drawers of socks. There are some people who actually collect socks."
The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6431, firstname.lastname@example.org or @BethanyClough on Twitter. Read her blog on fresnobeehive.com.