Put Your Best Ankle Forward
By Daniel Tehrani
The most popular trend in men’s accessories of late has been the statement sock. Its popularity as a covetable fashion statement may be a bit surprising (it-sock doesn’t quite have the ring of it-bag), but with a second look the statement sock makes a lot of sense—menswear has always been about attention to details.
Men’s accessories—like cufflinks, watches and tie-clips—are what give flavor to the otherwise subtle masculine uniform. A printed or colored sock is a discrete detail but it packs a punch. A peek of personality at the ankle in the form of a bright sock could add humor, sexiness, and taste to an otherwise simple outfit.
Enter Sunny and Tina Israni, the sibling team behind Zoraab.com, an online retailer dedicated to the men’s sock, stocking socks from subtle to statement—from grampa to hipster to sports. You can order single pairs a la cart or sign up for The Zoraab Kit, a packaged sock-of-the-month subscription deal that will keep your ankle wardrobe forever fresh (and is a perfect holiday gift idea). We sat down with the brother-sister duo to find out what's driving the menswear revolution and what it's like to keep business in the family.
Out: First of all, why socks?
Tina: I think my boyfriend was the inspiration, he’s really into his socks. He’s British and has great taste and it’s a very popular European trend that’s been spreading steadily to the States. I figured, why don’t we create this site with great, super niche brands.
Sunny: I’ve always been into it myself. I think its really popular in Europe, it’s a growing trend that’s on the heels of the renewed popularity of bowties and pocket squares. I think we’re entering this Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire era, where men are trying to be more dapper like the well-dressed men of the past. Pop culture is driving the renewed interest in men dressing well.
Having a printed or colorful pair of socks on is such a great little detail, is that kind of attention to detail important to both of your personal styles?
Tina: For me its always about statement jewelry or details like that, part of it definitely comes from our personal styles.
Sunny: I work in the banking world, in a industry where it is so important how you are perceived by your peers, the attention to detail of great sock makes a statement about who you are. As far as what kind of statement, it depends on the sock and it depends on the occasion. When I’m at work on the trading floor of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, I’ll go a little more conservative, like a simple Hugo Boss sock; but when I’m out in New York City, I love to wear something like our Super Hero sock, which I loved to wear this summer.
Tina: The way that our site sort of works is that there are the conservative socks, or the fun socks depending on the kind of statement you want to make. Let’s say you have a guy, he works the trading floor, and he’ll add color to his two-piece suit with an argyle sock but, on the weekend, maybe he wants to break out and wear an octopus sock.
Both of you are from a banking background, why the transition to fashion?
Sunny: I definitely had the fashion background before that, I actually worked in retail for five years as a manager at Dolce & Gabbana in New Jersey. I was more focused on the men’s wardrobe and guys were always interested in adding on a great pair of socks to their purchase.
Tina: Even though I’ve been in finance, I’ve always been on the more creative side. I've always had a passion for creative writing, and I’m currently working on a novel as well so this is has been a great artistic outlet for us.
You guys are donating 10% of annual sales to charity with the Socks for The Sole charity you guys started. What inspired the idea?
Tina: We heard socks are the number one asked for item in homeless shelters in New York City, so the way our Socks for Soles initiative works is we’ll match any socks you donate.
How has it been working together as brother and sister?
Sunny: It’s definitely been interesting! There’s been ups and downs but its works very well.
Tina: We had to transition from a sibling relationship to a working one; we’ve come to learn to be patient with each other but there’s just a great level of trust. It changed our family dynamic for the better. It’s been so cool, even our parents have been involved. Our mom came up with the name Zuraab, which means socks in several Indian dialects, and our dad has always been an entrepreneur involved in textiles so he’s been such a great help to us. We always wanted to go into business together and this was the perfect way to do it.
For more gift ideas and sock selections, visit Zoraab.com