Human ingenuity vs. the lost sock

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For generations, the socks seemed to be winning. They were getting lost and staying lost. Lurking out there, unseen.

The tale is virtually as old as footwear: Humans launder socks, and every so often one of them escapes.

Precisely why, how and where have long been the stuff of legend and discussion. But each missing sock leaves behind a baffled, even furious human.

Now comes hope in the form of new products that enable us to feign indifference.

Throx are socks sold in sets of threes. Lose one? No problem.

LittleMissMatched offers unmatched yet coordinated patterned socks sold in odd numbers. Lose one, so what?

Hear that, lost socks? We humans just don’t care anymore. Take THAT.

It’s a power thing. Socks seem aware that we need them.

Think of all the people you know, every single one of them. “They probably all wear socks,” said Sally Kay, president of the Hosiery Association, an industry group in Charlotte, N.C.

And they’ve probably all lost a few.

Throx – socks in threes

Edwin Heaven took note, and decided to do something about it. He thought: Make a set of socks instead of a pair, to anticipate losing one. Thus, Throx, “The Cure for the Missing Sock.”

“Everyone laughed at me,” Heaven said from his home and headquarters in San Francisco. “But I thought, “I’m going to do it.”‘ That was 2003.

Now Throx, in various styles, are carried in several San Francisco stores and sell online at www.throx.com.

“I haven’t done any advertising,” Heaven said, but word quickly spread. “I don’t know how they find me, but I’ve done radio interviews for Japan, Iceland, Canada, I just did one for Ireland.”

LittleMissMatched – coordinated socks

Socks from LittleMissMatched, also based in San Francisco, are in some 600 stores nationwide and selling briskly after their launch last fall. Celeb fans include Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.

The LittleMissMatched theory is: Don’t wear matched socks, wear coordinated socks. Mix ’em up, grab any two. It just doesn’t matter if one or more get lost.

“One of my partners and I were at a dinner party and were joking about missing socks,” said co-founder Arielle Eckstut. “We thought, wouldn’t it be funny if some company sold mismatched socks? And that idea just kind of stuck in our craw.”

LittleMissMatched socks come in packages of three or seven.

“We started out thinking these were for ‘tween girls,” Eckstut said. “But we get letters every day from people, everyone from college kids to women in their 80s.”

Because, of course, everyone dreads a missing sock.

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Theories abound

Where they think those socks have gone generally falls into two categories: mystical or rational. That’s according to Harry Robins of San Francisco, aka Dr. Perditus Pedale, author of “The Meaning of Lost and Mismatched Socks.”

“It depends on whether your view is based on faith or reason,” Robins said. “One woman I know believes pixies took them.”

A more scientific-minded launderer may deduce the sock squirmed its way under the agitator during the wash. Or got stuck in the dryer.

Robins himself is a “sock agnostic.” Where they go is unknowable.

“Maybe socks have a mischievous quality to them,” and enjoy taunting us, said Michael “Professor” Solomon, author of “How to Find Lost Objects.”

Solomon, of Baltimore, calls himself a “findologist.” If you’re especially worried about a particular lost sock, he suggests trying his 12 Principles to look for it. (No. 1, “Don’t look for it,” No. 2, “It’s not lost, you are,” etc. – these and the others are explained at www.professorsolomon.com.)

Solomon himself doesn’t miss missing socks. “All my socks are exactly the same, so I never know if one gets lost,” he said. “That’s a solution to the problem, I know, but still doesn’t explain it.”

Sock Locks – keep tabs on your socks

Another solution is a gadget such as Sock Locks. Those are colorful discs with star-shaped cutouts. Pull a pair of socks together through the disc. Theoretically, they stay paired up throughout the hamper-washer-dryer-sock drawer cycle.

Gail Tuzman is a distributor in Montclair, N.J. She sells lots of Sock Locks at www.sock-locks.com, and her family uses them.

“We color code,” she said. She uses pink Sock Locks, her husband uses red. Makes post-laundry sock sorting faster.

Ironically, Tuzman first encountered and used Sock Locks years ago – then couldn’t find them to buy more. “Every time we’d travel, we’d check another store,” she said. Once she did locate them she immediately signed on as a distributor.

“I figured if we were looking for them, so were other people,” she said.

Thus, lost Sock Locks for lost socks, lost no more.

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