How We Kick It: Ryan Kingman, VP of Marketing at Stance Socks Talks Company Success and Collaborations
Stance Socks is one of the most popular and successful sock lines in the biz. Dedicated to providing unique socks that offer many an outlet for self-expression and individuality, the company, in it's third year of business, has collaborated with artists such as the legendary Wu-Tang Clan and produces a slew of visually enticing designs that all provide comfort and most importantly, performance. Speaking on the company's commitment to expression, Ryan Kingman, who's VP of Marketing at Stance, speaks with XXL's The Good Life about the importance of originality, Stance Socks' origin and what we can expect for Fall 2013 and beyond.—Ralph Bristout (@RalphieBlackmon)
Stance was birthed in 2010 and is already considered one of the most popular sock lines to date. How does that feel?
Just seeing that in print feels incredible. We’ve been redlining the entire time so any positive response we get is great. While we enjoy the accolades we are extremely focused on our brand, the product and satisfying the consumer so we try not to bask in the sunshine much but rather keep our heads down and keep charging ahead.
How did the company come to life? How did the decision to go into the sock business come together?
We wanted to do something unique that offers an outlet for self-expression and could inspire us to challenge the status quo. That goal coupled with what we recognized as an opportunity to champion a category that was for the most part being ignored is what forged Stance. There are a lot of brands that produce socks but none of them were giving it the attention it deserved.
What were the expectations of the brand, before it was officially birthed?
To create something fun and unique that offered newness to the market and satisfied a longing from the consumer, even if they didn’t know it yet. We knew we wanted to create a brand that epitomized our lifestyle through a product that was original and exciting.
How did company name Stance Socks originate?
Stance was a name that has universal application to so many aspects of life but at the same time is vague. We wanted a name that represents point of view, a position or a form of expression in life but also has an individual meaning to the person experiencing our brand.
The company has deep roots within the skateboarding world, how has that influenced the creative direction for the brand?
Skateboarding is a natural fit for us. Most of our co-founders skate as do many of the investors. It was an organic part of our brand development. Skating has heavily influenced mainstream culture in so many ways for so long it goes without saying that we wanted it to be a foundational block in the DNA of the brand. To us, skateboarding represents progression but in a way that is not asking for approval or consent, much the same way we started as a brand.
Recently Stance collaborated with Wu-Tang for a special limited edition pair of socks. How did that collab come together?
We look at each project we do through the lens set of originality, self-expression and creativity. Wu Tang defined an era and is still hugely popular with the young and the older consumer. We had an opportunity to utilize the Wu Tang mark for a sock and jumped on it. It’s iconic in hip-hop and in music so it made perfect sense to us.
Who are some other artists, that you're hoping to collaborate with soon? Is there a favorite collaboration so far?
There’s definitely a list but we want to make sure that we engage artists that are the right fit and are excited about what we’re doing as a brand. The latest project that we’re working on is with Stalley, more on that to come.
What goes into the creative process behind making this specially crafted socks?
First there’s the concept, then the actual design. After that we look at what our manufacturing capabilities are. Since we pride our selves on quality we’re not willing to marginalize the quality for the sake of design. Combine all of that with a little magic and out comes a kickass sock.
Plans for the Fall/Winter 2013 season and beyond?
No plans on slowing down; that’s for sure. We’ve got some exciting new projects in development both in our current areas of the brand as well as in greater development. We’d like to thank all of the sock enthusiast around the world for helping us realize our vision and for being a part of The Uncommon Thread.