Last month I wrote about how I tied my shoelaces in different ways at school as a minor act of rebellion against strict school rules. I am of course not the first, nor will I be the last, to do something like that.
A huge fashion trend in the 1990s originated from Japanese schoolgirls challenging strict school uniform policies. This was the loose socks trend that was massive in Japan in the mid to late 1990s. The trend even caught on outside of Japan, first in other Asian countries and then to countries further afield. Akira Tokita, president of the sockmaker company Browndoll is credited with starting the loose socks phenomenon. At the height of the fad, Akira’s company sold 600 000 pairs of loose socks in 1996 alone. That’s a lot of socks when you consider that this was a trend mainly worn by teenage girls.
Loose socks, as the name suggests, are baggy, slouchy socks. The socks are bigger and wider than normal socks in the ankle and calf area to achieve the slouchy look. When worn by a girl with big calves, these socks give the illusion of thinner legs.
The trend started with Japanese high school girls rebelling against school uniform rules. These schoolgirls started shortening the hem of their school skirts and wearing loose socks with their shortened skirts. Wearing loose socks with short skirts made the girls look taller with longer, thinner legs. Some schools reacted by banning loose socks altogether. Schoolgirls would get around this ban by wearing normal school socks and having their skirt at an appropriate length while at school. But once school was over and they were out of school grounds, these girls would put on loose socks over their normal socks and roll up the waistband of their school skirt to shorten it.
While this trend was started by Japanese highschool girls, it was soon copied by middle school girls seeking to emulate their older schoolmates. It even spread to older young women who had left school. This look (loose socks with a short, pleated skirt) is one that is strongly associated with Japanese schoolgirls. Comic book characters in Japanese manga are commonly depicted wearing this look.
The most common colour for loose socks are white, and because of their origins as school socks, they also come in black or navy blue. Loose socks are worn below the knee paired with school shoes like a Mary Jane style.
The loose socks style even spawned something called super loose socks. These were socks that were so big, loose and heavy that they needed a special glue just to keep them up around the calf area.
Just like with all fads and crazes, the loose socks trend has had its day and had disappeared by the early 2000s.