While Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has seen his popularity dip among voters in recent weeks (thanks to a cringeworthy trip to India, fashionwise), the politician continues to be a sock style trendmaker.
Since taking office in 2015, Trudeau has developed a reputation for his bold legwear choices. At global summits throughout the globe, he can be spotted in brightly patterned socks featuring stripes, polka dots, argyle and an array of other unexpected prints.
For instance, he’s shown his love for “Star Wars” on multiple occasions with socks by Stance, and he put the Canadian brand Halal Socks on the map when he wore its “Eid Mubarak” style to a Gay Pride parade last year. However, one recent look hit a sour note. When the 46-year-old wore rubber ducky socks to the World Economic Forum in Davos, he was quickly skewered on social media for his “fowl” fashion choice.
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Nevertheless, experts say the PM has the ability to influence what men are wearing on their ankles.
“More people are aware of interesting socks because of him,” said Janet Wright, owner of the Toronto-based retail chain Floor Play Socks. “Young guys see what he’s wearing, and then they’ll come in asking for a particular style.”
Candy Harris, chief marketing officer of the Stance brand, said those “Star Wars” photo ops made an impact. “It definitely brought a new set of eyes on our brand, especially in Canada and Europe,” she said. “And there was quite a bit of high-profile press that came out about the droid socks he wore on May the 4th that led to people searching for those socks and coming to Stance.com.”
And for Halal Socks founders Sherry and Sara Qureshy, Trudeau helped launch their company. The two had been visiting with Muslim community leaders in early 2017 to gauge support for starting their business. When one politician offered to give the prime minister a pair of their rainbow-colored socks for Eid Mubarak (the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan), they never expected him to wear them, much less to a very public Pride Week event.
Sherry Qureshy told FN the effect was immediate. “Suddenly our socks were trending,” he recalled. “The local news picked it up, and then everyone was covering it: the BBC, CNN, The New York Times. We were flooded with inquiries.” And the attention translated to sales: “We were just prototyping at the time, but when he wore the socks, we were forced to start selling right away. And we got requests from all over the world — Germany, France. He has such global appeal.”
Trudeau’s sock influence does appear to be spreading across the globe to other top leaders. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has been sporting graphic socks as well, by brands such as Irish Socksciety. He even showed off a Canada-themed pair during a meeting with Trudeau last July.
Joanna Zalech, co-founder of Irish Socksciety, said that while Trudeau hasn’t worn her brand’s socks, he does have an influence on the market. “He opens a lot of minds and educates men and women that socks [can] help to stand out and showcase that the person who is wearing them is fun,” she said. “He proves socks don’t have to be a boring necessity but can add a bit of joy to a professional outfit and a serious meeting.”
Click through this slideshow to see more of the Canadian PM’s sock style.