Q&A with Jacob from Democratique Socks by EUROMAN …

Q&A with Jacob Christiansen by EUROMAN (Danish mens fashion magazine)
Article from 2012 (but its still current)
Translated from danish to english.

Link to danish article: http://www.euroman.dk/stil/Nyheder/qa-med-jacob-christiansen/?subarticle=1#article

Democratique Socks has recently made much noise in the streets. We caught up with Jacob Christiansen, self-proclaimed Sock Democrat and founder, to talk about user involvement, the perfect day, and where the inspiration for Democratique Socks come from.

EUROMAN: What is Your story, why socks?
JACOB – DEMOCRATIQUE SOCKS: We started many years ago as distributor of different brands in the skate/surf business. It is an incredibly creative environment, and like many others we had the desire to create ourselves. The joy of not being dependent on whether the collection from the US is good or bad, made us start two brands in 2002 and 2009 – which is still selling around Europe and Japan. In August 2011, we decided to drop the distribution rights and focus 100% on our own brands. Then we took two months free, brainstormed about the future, and then the socks came out of the idea drawer again after a few years.

After traveling around Europe and many store checks in Copenhagen we could see that there was a huge gap in the market for socks high quality at reasonable prices. We wanted to close that gap. We called our friends Jesper Isholm, Thomas Carlson and Jacob Unna, and they have helped to develop strategy, corporate identity, website, design, etc. Overall in the office, we have more than 120 years experience of wearing socks, so we know it works and is probably here to stay.

EUROMAN: Where and how do democracy and social design fit into the picture?
JACOB – DEMOCRATIQUE SOCKS: We wanted to involve our customers in Democratique Socks, and it should be on ‘daily’ basis. Therefore they are also involved in the design process. We design the majority of the collection, but we left a door open to potential super designs from our customers. We took it into consideration when we programmed our website, so there was a built-in voting function, where customers could send in their own designs.

We are already well underway, and there is everything from our own designs – but not included in the final vote – Peter who loves his dog Oda, a beer-sock, paper airplanes and more. Here You can vote for Your favorite sock, and the design with most votes gets into production. It could hardly be more democratic, and just like in the real world, you have only one vote in an election. In short, thats where democracy comes into the picture, and that is what we call social design. Furthermore, our website fully integrated and built over social media, so our social design were given a wider meaning.

Finally we vote for the designs in each collection at the office, so thats also democracy.

EUROMAN: How is a perfect day out when you wear in democratique socks?
JACOB – DEMOCRATIQUE SOCKS: For me personally it is absolutely perfect, when I get up early with my wife Maria and my twins Anna and Alfred and enjoy the morning before I leave for our showroom at 7 o’clock. Whether it’s a pair of black Democratique Socks I wear or a sample of camouflage socks, will not make so much difference.

After all, its “only” socks – but I will color coordinate with my outfit, the mood and the weather. The most important thing is that the quality is high and the socks are perfect to wear, whether it’s in sneakers or a pair of Clarks Originals Desert Boots. The day starts with e-mails an its primarily inquiries from international stores, distributors and agents. We do not have stock in the showroom, as the warehouse is outsourced, but we still enjoy the received orders from when we left the office the day before, until we come the next morning. The rest of the morning we´re working on development of new collections, collaborations and ideas – we have, for example. just made a sock with the boys from Sneaker Banquet in Copenhagen.

If it’s a really good day some of our friends and customers drop by for traditional Danish lunch at our favorite place Café Halvvejen in Krystalgade, Copenhagen – but we have important things to be done in the afternoon, so its only for lunch. Then it’s time to go home at 4:30 PM to start the barbecue and have a cold beer. Thats a perfect day for me.

The perfect days is seen through my eyes, but I am sure that we have a lot of customers, for example in the age group 20-27 years, who have no children. As we see the customer, it’s a creative unisex, possibly students, both city and outside big cities, fashion and music interested.
Therefore, a perfect day – when you wear Democratique Socks – is probably a huge party with friends like Distortion in Copenhagen, with lots of music and drinks from the supermarket. That is certainly what I would do if I was younger – I have an appointment with Kim from Flavour in Skindergade on Wednesday to checkout Distortion.

EUROMAN: Where do you get your inspiration from?
JACOB – DEMOCRATIQUE SOCKS: It’s quite simple – all over the place! We spend much time on walking around Copenhagen and and absorb the impulses, but we also listen a lot of dealers and customers. In addition, London is a perfect place to look for inspiration. Whether it´s high street or Shoreditch doesn´t matter. It may also be the colours on a house roof in Istanbul, a Hans J. Wegner Wishbone chair, the composition of colours on a Fanta label or ideas from our sales team at GURU Agency in Aarhus. The most important thing is that we make the highest quality / price mix, the materials we work with – thats also an inspiration.

We make 2 main collections per year and 2 spot collections, where we have very short production time, so we can respond consistently to new ideas. We just completed our Fall / Winter collection, which will be delivered September 1st 2012. If we only produced from what was hot last winter in Denmark – and designed from that – we would have made rag socks (ed. Wool socks, which are excellent for walking and keep warm ). We have made a more varied collection.
We will of course continue our Democratique Socks Originals collection, but there will be a variety of very nice socks at reasonable prices. The best part is that we´re producing at one of the world’s best factories that have existed for over 50 years so we can benefit from their expertise. Their know-how is also a huge source of inspiration.

EUROMAN: How do you define men’s fashion in 2012?
JACOB – DEMOCRATIQUE SOCKS: Oh, there are certainly some very smart people in the industry who can give a better answer. If we talk about Democratique Socks isolated, we dont think about men’s fashion – but just the best craftsmanship that last longer than 30 days or 3 times in the washing machine. Whatever comes first. I think customers are clever and dont take any bullshit. They want high quality and preferably at reasonable prices.

I dont believe men have a problem paying a little extra for quality. If we look at anything else than what You see on runways, and just looking outside our window at Krystalgade in Copenhagen, there will be mixed lot. However, we are fortunate that we are not dependent on whether a collar on a shirt are long or short – socks can not really invented again – only in concept, materials, colours and visual appearance. If we look at it with a different view and from our own taste, then there are some classic products, all men should have in his wardrobe – and thats what we see in men’s fashion. Many will typically be more dress-up at work, but more loose when you meet with your partner or friends right after work. Here is the only choice of shoes and maybe one extra opened button on Your shirt that determines whether you are casual or dress up. The clothes may well be the same from morning to late night. That was the short and very transparent response!

Thanks a lot to Jacob Christiansen from Democratique Socks and best wishes for the future!

Links to Democratique Socks: