As part of our founder interview series we talk with Dirk Vis about the sustainability implications of losing socks, and his eureka moment to keep them together.
Where does your passion for socks come from? Why did you decide to focus on this particular article of clothing?
It’s a matter of passion for design and fashion. I love art, fashion design, but also architecture and furniture design. Fashion design is a very direct way to express yourself since it’s really out there and literally on you all the time, changing with your moods. I could not find a sock brand that matched my sense of style, quality and sustainability. That’s why I decided to create my own brand, which is in the sweet spot of these three elements.
Qnoop stands for button in Dutch (knoop). Tell us about the button that makes your socks so special?
When starting up Qnoop I wanted sustainability to be at the core of the brand. When thinking out of the box about this I figured; one of the most unsustainable things about socks is that you lose one and throw away the other as a consequence! Did you know on average people lose 1.3 socks a month? That adds up to an incredible figure of 265 million in one year for a small country like the Netherlands alone! That’s when I decided to take a closer look at the problem of the missing sock and come up with a solution to dissolve this once and for all. One day I was dressing up my little daughter and her dress had a loop and a button on the neck to close it. That was my eureka moment. From then on we designed our socks with a button on the one, and a loop on the other. This way you can tie them together and never lose one anymore! That’s why our tagline is “The only pair that stays a couple”
Qnoop socks come in a variety of fun colours and designs. What is the design inspiration behind Qnoop socks?
It could be anything that inspires us for the new collection. We get inspired by playing fields as well as art and architecture. For example, we have a sock named after the painter Malevich because of its typical graphical blocks floating over the sock. Our newest items for next season will have track field lines all over. We always work from themes for a collection and strive to be fashionable and timeless at the same time. Since our socks last very long, creating designs that are fashionable forever is key.
Qnoop socks are designed in Amsterdam, but produced in Portugal. How do you manage your supply chain and ensure ethical production throughout?
We produce in Portugal because they have a great history of quality production of socks. Portugal has to adhere to European regulation when it comes to minimum wages, over time, and child labour. And of course it’s relatively easy to visit the factory to really see for ourselves what’s going on. Our socks are made of the finest organic combed cotton, which is GOTS certified. We steam and press our socks in the factory. This prevents shrinkage and makes them feel ultra soft on your feet. The toe and heel are reinforced so the socks stay perfect over time. Our labels and packaging are made out of a composition of new and recycled cardboard, and our button is biodegradable.
What three words best describe working at Qnoop?
Creativity. Quality. Sustainability.
Each pair of Qnoop socks is packaged like a small gift in recycled packaging. Why did you add this special touch?
You know how it’s fun to unwrap a present? That’s why! Socks are often gifted, another reason for us to make them extra special. It’s so much nicer to give away a nicely gift-wrapped pair of socks and bring a smile to someone’s face. Even when it’s your own. But secondly, a product made with care should be shipped with care. Our packaging makes sure that the product stays intact when bought online.
What does “Ethical Fashion” mean to you?
To me it’s about willing to do things right from the heart. It’s a combination of being ‘green’ and knowing ‘who made our product’. So it’s about making sure we do our utmost to keep our footprint down but also about partnering up with parties that are trustworthy and try to do things right as well on all aspects.
Why do you think sustainable fashion has been growing so rapidly in recent years, and how do you feel to be a part of this movement?
Yes it’s great to see so many cool brands that are like-minded when it comes to sustainability! I love the movement but even more the fact that it’s spreading outside the people in the movement. Breaking through the boundaries. In the end it needs to become mainstream.
What advice do you have for people who are interested in shopping more ethically?
There are ethical platforms, blogs, brands and stores already. If you look into these and read their stories you will get the right information. And I think it’s all about balance and awareness, my lifestyle is not completely sustainable either.
What do you hope to see for Qnoop in the future?
We are currently working on some very cool sustainability projects. We are looking into how we can work with bike couriers to deliver our socks in the cities, and are going to compensate our CO2 emissions from our transport from manufacturer to our warehouse by planting trees. Our ultimate goal is to re-use our own product in the production chain. And in the meantime all our effort is in scaling up. In the past half-year we have expanded from 3 countries to 13 so we are on the move. There are still a lot of opportunities within those markets. It’s fighting every day for a new label to get entrance into a mature and traditional socks market. And scaling up is necessary to realize our dreams.