When Southern Scholar Socks Founder Kevin Wohlman started working full-time after college, he noticed that almost everyone in the office had something in common. From interns to partners, everyone “seemed to be wearing some sort of patterned sock,” he told PYMNTS in an interview. But Wohlman had a hard time finding brands that “were unique but still office-appropriate.” Many of his co-workers were wearing socks that didn’t seem suitable for work. And so he decided to start making his own socks and testing different material blends.
Wohlman soon began to receive compliments on his creations, and people asked where he got the socks. The concept started to pick up steam, and on his one-year anniversary at his job, he left and launched Southern Scholar. Today, the company offers men’s socks made for style, comfort and durability, delivered to consumers on a monthly basis. As he noticed that many of the men back at his office had a hard time putting together corresponding outfits, Southern Scholar also includes a style card that shows consumers head-to-toe outfit options, from business casual to business professional.
Consumers can order a subscription through Southern Scholar, a process that Wohlman says is relatively simple. They can choose from month-to-month, six-month and 12-month prepaid options, and can pay for their subscriptions online using a credit card. The company ships out a specific design every month, Wohlman noted. All of the designs are based on seasonality as well as the style of outfit.
Each subscriber gets the same sock each month, and the company backs the shipments with a satisfaction guarantee. There are brighter, more vibrant colors in spring and summer, with darker, more subtle tones in fall and winter. The company aims to make its offerings as unique as possible while still offering professional options. The idea is to toe the line between boring and novelty.
For the most part, Southern Scholar sticks to micro patterns, Wohlman said, which might include micro-chevrons, pin dots, micro argyles, polka dots, stripes and more but away form the novelty designs such as lightning bolts and pineapple prints. “There’s nothing too crazy about it,” he noted.
The company also uses different materials than other players on the market. For instance, they don’t use any cotton in its socks, instead opting for 32s/1 polyester threads with viscose rayon fibers, which they claim offers a very high level of comfort and durability. They also blend nylon and spandex into the sock to offer “a uniform stretch throughout and a guaranteed perfect fit.”
Southern Scholar also has a members-only shop, and for a limited time is also selling some selections to consumers who don’t have subscriptions.
Wohlman noted that most people think the company’s target demographic includes Gen Z and millennials. However, the bulk of its market is in the 35- to 44-year-old segment, while it also does a pretty decent-sized business in the 45- to 54-year-old age range. He said the majority of clientele has a relatively high education. The far majority has at least a bachelor’s degree, and an even higher margin are at a master’s or doctorate level. Based on a recent demographic survey, they found that they serve a broad spectrum of occupations, including pharmacists, teachers and law enforcement.
Southern Scholar’s offering comes as subscription-based businesses have become all but ubiquitous over the past few years, according to the latest PYMNTS Subscription Commerce Tracker. According to the report, “Customers can have everything from razors to clothing to toys delivered to their front steps, and they can play almost any piece of media imaginable, all for a monthly fee.” The PYMNTS Global Recurring Payments Tracker also found that, among retailers, 67 percent say that using subscription sales models increased their revenue.
With the subscription business model, eCommerce innovators such as Southern Scholar Socks are providing customers with unique accessories and the style advice needed to help them coordinate their new purchases with their old outfits.