As you know, I am an advocate for us all slowing down our shopping habits. But there’s no getting around the fact that there are certain items we all need to replace pretty regularly, such as basics like t-shirts, as well as underwear and socks. So with a higher turnover rate than the average piece in your wardrobe, it’s even more important to try and source your socks as sustainably as possible.
The best place to start is to check what material your socks are made from. Look for natural materials like organic cotton, bamboo and wool, and try to avoid anything with a really high stretch content (AKA plastic fibres) – it’s hard to avoid it completely, but socks with a lower percentage of elastane are always better than those with a high one, and if it’s recycled, all the better. Remember, every time you wash man made plastic materials like elastane, nylon and polyester, they release microplastics into our water systems, and there’s no getting around the fact that we need to wash our socks quite regularly!
As a shoe lover, it follows that I have a bit of a thing for socks, too. Not so much the novelty sock side of things, but I love bright colours, a bold pattern and, of course, comfort. So this edit includes sustainable socks that fit with my personal – rather bright! – aesthetic. But if all you’re after is a pair of plain black eco-friendly socks, it’s worth checking out all of these brands as they will probably cater for your needs, too.
This article contains some affiliate links and gifted items
Rock + Ruby
Fangirl content incoming! I absolutely LOVE Rock + Ruby socks. These ribbed woollen wonders are handcrafted in the UK and come in some absolutely stonking colour options. This pair is the Mable style, which is a flattering low cut (ideal for shorter legs like mine!). I’m also very keen indeed on the Betsy (I wear my grey pair at least once a week) and the two-tone Wyona (above). Wool has natural antibacterial properties, which I find – and this might be oversharing somewhat – means that I can wear these socks for 3 or 4 days without having to wash them. Which also means that ultimately, they will last longer, too!
There’s something about a red sock isn’t there? I’m also a big fan of ribbed socks, and since the high street store I used to stock up on them from is part of a certain greenwashing giant that I no longer shop at, I’m thrilled that Colorful Standard has started doing this style. Team with a paired back outfit for a subtle pop of colour.
£9, colorfulstandard.com. Get 10% off with the code HANNAHCS10
Tore is a relatively new discovery for me, but after a month or so of road testing I can confirm that I am a fan! All socks are made from 100% recycled materials (I don’t know of any other brand that can claim this), and every three pack saves on average 2 years of fresh drinking water, and diverts 2.4 plastic water bottles and 0.6 t-shirts from landfill. Isn’t that brilliant? I went for the plain grey ones (because I honestly struggle when I open my sock drawer to find anything not snazzy!) but I also really like the pink grid designs.
£15.99 for a pack of 3, wearetore.com
More ribbed socks! You may or may not know that I love wearing socks with sandals and clog-style shoes, and I think a colourful ribbed sock is one of the most stylish ways you can do it. These organic cotton socks come in a pack of two; I love these rusty coloured ones, and there’s a really great dusky pink too.
£17 for a pack of two, organicbasics.com
I love these stripy socks, and if you’re after sustainable trainer socks, then Rapanui’s the place for you, with an abundance of designs to choose from. Sustainable socks can be a bit pricey, but these are much more on the affordable end of the scale, especially if you take advantage of the bundles – buying a pack of 7 reduces the price to just over £5 per pair. (I work for Rapanui)
Genevieve Sweeney’s wool socks have been a firm favourite of mine for years now. It’s a slow fashion brand with a focus on preserving the British knitwear industry using slow fashion and low-waste techniques. They’re my go-to snuggly sock, and they come with the added bonus of looking particularly great with sandals. My most recent pair are a classic Argyle design in the dreamy colour combo of cobalt and rust (see also the yellow pair at the top).
Thought has an absolutely massive selection of socks – so big, in fact, that it’s the second option on the navigation bar of its website. This is definitely the place to go if novelty socks are your thing (there’s even a category of ‘hobby socks’ featuring motifs including sailing, gardening and cycling), but the plain socks are much more up my street. I especially love these organic cotton yellow ‘Molly’ socks.
This lovely shop, which started life just around the corner from my house when I lived in London, has progressed not only to a cool premises in Coal Drops Yard, but to lovely things for adults as well as children. These bamboo socks made a timely appearance on my Instagram feed this week and I had to include them in this edit, not just because they are stunners, but also because they are dyed with botanically sourced materials like flowers, barks, and bugs.
I started this article by saying we have to replace our socks more often than other items in our wardrobes, but it’s worth pointing out that a really good pair of socks can last ages. I’ve been wearing my MAIK socks for years now and they look good as new. All are made in a family-run factory in France using eco-friendly dyes. I’m especially fond of the geometric designs, like this tartan pair.
While I’m not one for a novelty sock, I am partial to stripes (I mean, who isn’t?!). This jaunty pair from Seasalt Cornwall are made from bamboo and are available in 7 alternative stripy colours. For each pair bought, Seasalt donates a percentage to mental health charities.
Stripe and Stare
I’m a big fan of Stripe and Stare’s compostable knickers, but I didn’t realise that they also do socks! Brilliant value at just £8 (currently on sale) for a pack of three, when they wear out you can literally put them on the compost heap, because they don’t contain any plastic elastane, but instead use a plant-based alternative.