Sock Doping: Looking Flash with Versus Cycling Socks
Any fashionista will tell you: your ensemble is nothing without a strong sock game. And the same goes for your cycling getup.
At least that’s how Jurgens Uys and Hanno Lategan feel. The two Stellenbosch students were so fed up with the lack of sock choices in the local cycling industry, that they launched their own company: Versus Socks.
Designed and produced in South Africa, Versus’ cycling socks combine practical features with designs that are sometimes minimal, sometimes whacky—but always tasteful. They’re also available in varying lengths, and a decent range of colours—for the OCD among us who simply must have matching gear.
With our curiosity piqued, we pitched a few questions at Jurgens and Hanno.
Traffic Magazine: Hit us with the ‘how it happened’ story…
Jurgens Uys: Hanno and I are school friends and cycling buddies. I came up with the sock idea in 2013 and, at first, kept the idea to myself. But then, on a ride in Jonkershoek, I shared my vision and we both got excited to start our own cycling sock brand.
There wasn’t a good variety of quality cycling socks in South Africa. The options on the market were boring, with no cool colours to match your kit, bike or shoes. And no funky socks!
Lots of meetings and bike rides later, we sold our first pair in January 2015.
What’s Versus Socks’ design ethos?
Hanno Lategan: We continuously create new designs and samples. If it looks cool, we see how we can fit it into our current offerings and ask the public for their feedback. If they like it as well, we set it into production.
It’s a combination of comfort, breathability and durability. With designs to perfectly match your kit—or to stand out and make a noise.
You’ve become pretty popular, rather quickly—did you expect this?
Hanno: Not at all. We knew the gap in the market was there, but in the beginning we went head first (or should we say feet first) into the venture and just hoped for the best. We received very good feedback from the market, and we just built the Versus brand from there.
What’s it like being a South African company, going into a market saturated with international brands?
Hanno: We’ve had our share of ‘South African’ problems. Last year, during the load shedding months, our production times were almost tripled, which made replenishment and design planning quite a daunting task for us.
On the flip side, the import duties on clothing are quite high, which makes the end product in the local market quite expensive. Which counts in our favour, as all our products are manufactured locally.
We dig your cycling socks—any plans to branch out into other sports?
Jurgens: Thanks so much. We still want to improve our socks, to give our clients even more value for money. We are also continuously expanding the range with more options and more ladies sizes.
We’re definitely looking into other sock markets as well, but the cycling industry is our strong point. We know what cyclists’ needs and wants are.
Any plans to develop other cycling clothing?
Jurgens: We do not have any plans to start selling other clothing items. We are Versus Socks, and we want to specialise in creating the best and coolest socks on the market.
I like the old saying: ‘Jack of all trades, master of none.’