The creator of the Takapara brand and the Skarpetoholik chain, we talk to Łukasz Milanowski, the sock king of Poland!
WI: Why are socks important…
LM: Socks aren’t the first thing you want to think of in the morning… but they’re an important element that can change everything – uncomfortable, bad quality socks can destroy your day – and they can also prove unpleasant for your entourage! Wearing great socks doesn’t just make you feel better, but it can spice up your look, especially if your dress code is quite sober. They can highlight your originality and personality.
When did you realize there’s money to be made from socks?
Before I created my own company I was working as logistic director in one of the biggest automotive companies on the market. When I turned 35 I just had a feeling it was the last moment I could change my life and begin an adventure. I always dreamed of working for myself, but just didn’t know in what capacity. That changed in 2015 when I was talking with a friend; the idea of a sock business popped into my head like a cartoon lightbulb! The next day I quit my job and Takapara was born a year later.
Takapara grew quickly thanks to e-commerce, trade shows and design markets, but I was unhappy with the distribution network. Potential partners were choosing to showcase cheaper socks over quality ones. Yes, Takapara were more expensive, but that’s because the 200 needle technology I use ensure durability and outstanding quality.
Anyhow, I realized that opening my own store would be a step towards building my own distribution network. At first I thought about opening just a Takapara store but then realized that it would be way cooler to have a multi-brand store selling premium socks from around the world. I’ve now got stores in Łódź, Warsaw and Poznań and despite the pandemic I’ve got plans for more!
Where do you get your inspirations from when designing socks?
Inspiration is everywhere – on the street, in your head, etc. The secret is to keep an eye on your surroundings and have talented friends around you.
What is the Takapara look?
At first I was producing only geometrical patterns but since then I’ve got a few lines: Takapara Classic which offers colorful interpretations of the classic geometric form, Takapara Fun which is all about funny mismatched socks with a stunning, fresh design, Takapara DS which concerns itself with a more distinguished style and Takapara Art which showcases art-inspired designs and original, energetic collaborations. The quality is the signature that unites them all.
What’s your best-selling Takapara design?
It’s the TYLNA 99m1 model which is one of our PRIDE models. I never expected rainbow socks to be popular here, but people feel good with these colors. It’s nice to have a rainbow in your life.
What socks should EVERY person keep in their wardrobe and why?
The answer is good quality socks. It’s not my role to tell you what to wear: if you like colors? Cool! If you prefer neat black socks? Please do. The important thing is to feel good in your socks regardless of their design.
Are there any sock crimes that must be punished!
The slogan of Takapara is: “Be yourself, be different” so all “socks crimes” are welcome! Nowadays trends are much more multi-faced and, in my opinion, that’s good for diversity and creativity. It’s true that some combinations are subject to debate, but even the world of high fashion is guilty. Personally I don’t like to wear socks and sandals but if you like it, that’s fine with me!
Are there any socks you hate seeing people wear?
There’s some combinations I find a little, ahem, ‘difficult’: sport shoes with black socks, for instance. I wouldn’t use the word hate though.
Do you have a personal sock strategy!
I’m of the belief that people should have lots of socks and just play around mixing them. When dressing I just pick out the nearest two with similar colors – and sometimes not even that. I never have matching socks and like it that way.
How have Polish sock-buying habits changed?
In the past we were fixated on price and the more practical side of the product. Now people are paying attention to quality and originality. For many people, a five-pack pair of socks from a discount store is fine, but they’ll also consider some outstanding socks a must.
If you had to wear just one pair of socks for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
Impossible – I can’t even imagine such a situation!
For a 25% discount, shop online at takapara.com using the discount code WAWINS