To get off to a good footing, try pulling these onIn general, men tend to suffer from athlete’s foot more than women. To help those in need, Korean clothing companies came up with what is known as “toe socks” a few years ago. This revolutionary design, similar to the shape of gloves (in fact, made from the same kind of machine), helps to prevent the blisters and associated symptoms of athlete’s foot because it allows air to penetrate easily into the toe-shaped socks.
At first, the sight of the unfamiliar design, of toes wriggling independently in the sock, made ordinary people less than receptive toward the invention. Now, however, toe socks are kicking up fashionable admirers among men and women.
“Toe socks used to come in one color ― white ― which was made of cotton and mostly worn by men,” says an employee at a Hyundai Department Store sock corner. “Now sock firms are coming up with many designs and colors to target women.”
Female toe socks come in bright colors and stripes, as opposed to the boring, tradition style available for men.
“Before, women felt embarrassed to wear toe socks because doing so would be admitting that they had athlete’s foot,” says Park Sang-im, a designer for the clothing company Intarsia. “But now, there are many sophisticated designs just for women.” Intarsia produces various types of toe socks, such as smell-repellent socks, scented brands and ones that promote better circulation.
For women who need to wear toe socks because of athlete’s foot, there are small-size models that can be worn beneath ordinary socks.
Sock companies have seen increasing sales since the toe socks were introduced in the mid-1990s, and expect the market will grow in the future. Toe socks are even sold in Europe and North America. Well-known clothing companies such as Daks and Nina Ricci are rushing to produce more. The cost of toe socks is about 4,500 won ($3.80) per pair. During the holiday season, toe socks are a popular gift for older loved ones, in a style that features anti-skid pads on the bottoms to prevent slipping or falling.
When President-elect Roh Moo-hyun suffered from athlete’s foot in the past, he turned to wearing toe socks. When this became known during the election campaign, people dubbed the toe-showing socks as the “Roh Moo-hyun socks.” Now it seems the socks are surely here to stay.
by Choi Jie-ho