With its first line of Star Wars socks in 2015, Stance changed the way many fans thought about fashion inspired by the galaxy far, far away. The company’s offerings featured original designs that focused heavily on characters, expertly walking a line between style, reverence, and playfulness. With Stance, socks didn’t have to be an afterthought; they could be an active part of planning your outfit and celebrating Star Wars.
In other words, we didn’t know we needed Ewok socks until Stance came along.
“It’s been almost eight years [since Stance launched] and when we started, the sock category was pre-packs of black, gray, and white tube socks,” Joe Jorgensen, Stance’s VP of design, says. “That’s how we all bought socks. Maybe the only exception to that would’ve been dress socks. That’s where we really saw the opportunity. To take a category that was overlooked and really elevate the entire category…Star Wars being part of that category has kind of brought this awareness that this is something you don’t need to overlook.”
Stance launched its 2018 holiday collection last week, and it marks an exciting departure for the company’s take on Star Wars: while the line includes a variety of offerings, it’s led by a pop- and cartoon-oriented series of socks — dubbed “Warped” — that features the saga’s icons.
“Lucasfilm was very happy with the styles we’d created in the past,” Alan Garcia, director of art at Stance, says. “I think because of that, we’d gained some trust from them to try something new.”
“It was quite a challenge,” Gary Musgrave, designer of the “Warped” collection, tells StarWars.com. “We’ve got to try and capture a likeness to the characters we’re portraying, and we can’t do anything that’s not true to the Star Wars universe. I wanted to keep the fidelity of the characters, while at the same time, extracting them in a way that would be fun and playful.”
The images wrap around the sock, stretch and warp (“I always thought of it as a funhouse mirror,” Musgrave says of the “Warped” aesthetic), and explode with color. They’re heightened, to be sure, but respectful. Most importantly, they maintain Stance’s tenets of style and fun, but in a fresh expression. Chewbacca is joined by stormtroopers (more on them in a minute), who have an almost light-pink shading to their armor, while the aqua markings on their helmets are repurposed as detention-hall lights; another pair focuses on Boba Fett, his armor distilled to sea blue, dark pink, and yellow, with Han’s carbonite slab, the Slave I, and Cloud City floating behind him; a celebration of the Star Wars: A New Hope attack on the Death Star finds Luke in his X-wing cockpit, reds and oranges making him pop from the purple-hued TIE fighter pilot below; finally, one set gathers R2-D2, C-3PO, and Darth Vader together, for a wide range of color and stylized characters that look like they stepped out of the coolest 2D Star Wars cartoon that never was. Stance credits Celina Chu, Lucasfilm’s softlines design manager, with narrowing down the character selection and pairings, resulting in a line that focuses on icons but also tells stories of the saga. Fun fact: Chu made sure that the stormtroopers on the Chewie socks — who are actually Han and Luke in disguise — sport helmets that match those worn by Mark Hamill and Harrison Ford in A New Hope, which had shorter front vents than normal trooper armor. How’s that for authenticity?
So while the Sith Lord and two bickering droids might seem like an odd group, there’s a reason. “Vader and the droids was the very first scene,” Musgrave says simply.
In creating the socks, Musgrave made pencil sketches on his iPad Pro, and sent them off for approval. If there was interest, he’d keep developing. Once a final look was approved, he would design each element separately and then bring them together, keeping in mind limitations like the type of fabric to be used. “I try to have a vision in my mind of what the composition is going to lay out like,” Musgrave says. “But then I have to make the designs very adaptable so I can take individual objects, like Vader, and be able to move him individually in relation to everything else.” The reason: so that the final design reads well when the sock is worn, no matter the angle that someone might be looking at it. “It’s gotta start where it ends, and that needs to be a blend you can’t see,” he says. “It’s a really challenging design aspect. Just drawing it out, I’m almost trying to think in 3D.”
“It’s a 360-degree view,” Garcia says.”They could have easily just been character socks, but because of the approach to it, we have some iconic backgrounds as well as a lot of iconic ships.” Ultimately, how much art is packed onto these socks is truly most impressive. “When you really think about socks, and you look at them hanging on a rack in a store, there’s not a lot of real estate to design into,” he says.
“I really like this collection as a whole,” Garcia continues. “They all turned out so well. They have an animation-like quality to them. They’re all really well done.”
Also in the holiday line is underwear utilizing the “Warped” designs, as well as a new range of children’s socks — color variants of last year’s San Diego Comic-Con exclusives that were available in adult sizes only. They’re alive with color, but in a kid-doodling-in-their-notebook kind of way. According to Jorgensen, “We said [to the artist], ‘Hey, we love a flat-vector style, we love the use of color. Could you take inspiration from subway graffiti in New York in the 1980s, artists like Keith Haring, and really interpret Star Wars through that type of a lens?” Thematically, they fit well with the core “Warped” collection, but are also successful as stylized kids fashion on their own.
Rounding out the range are three lightweight socks for women that each focus on one icon — Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and a stormtrooper — with knit, front-facing characters above the ankle that expand down through the foot. The designs are some of the earliest made for Stance’s Star Wars socks, and have been specially repurposed for this style. Still, Stance considers everything it makes to be for everyone. “In my mind, even from the first season, it was always a unisex project,” Jorgensen says.
Stance is proud of this collection, but is already onto what’s next, from box (“We’ve got some really fun packaging projects that we’re cooking up for next year,” Jorgensen teases.) to product (“We’ve got more good stuff up our sleeves,” he teases again.). For now, if you’re new to Stance’s Star Wars offerings, you can take a first step into a larger world of fashion — in some very cool Star Wars socks.
Dan Brooks is Lucasfilm’s senior content strategist of online, the editor of StarWars.com, and a writer. He loves Star Wars, ELO, and the New York Rangers, Jets, and Yankees. Follow him on Twitter @dan_brooks where he rants about all these things.