VERSUS SOCKS: PUTTING THE 'FUNKY' BACK INTO RUNNING SOCKS
by Michelle Carnegie
29 November 2017
It’s entrepreneurial magic at its best: two ex-Stellenbosch students out on a cycle, and the conversations leads to the lack of comfortable and great looking sports socks. Fast forward four years and the two students have now become successful business partners, producing some of the funkiest and most durable running and cycling socks in the country, while exporting worldwide! Meet Hanno Lategan and Jurgens Uys, creators of Versus Socks, stocked by more than 200 stockists countrywide and exported to Australia, Switzerland, Denmark, Puerto Rico and Norway.
Versus Socks are not the type of socks that can really be missed, with a longer cuff length and images ranging from bananas to happy feet to clouds printed all over them, they sure are making a statement in South African sporting circles. In the last couple of months we’ve seen them on the feet of more and more runners and cyclists, while even some of the top elite runners in the country are proudly sporting them at local and international races. Apart from being great looking, their technical features are top notch, making them some of the hottest gear right now.
It all started on a long cycle ride
As many great ideas often start while running or cycling, this one was no different. In September 2013 while out on a cycle Hanno and Jurgens, both passionate sports people, discussed the topic of socks. With both of them always on the lookout for new business opportunities and both qualified in Marketing, the two 25-year-old buddies realized that there was a gap in the market for comfortable, durable and just outright good looking socks.
From there designs were put on the table, many chocolate milkshakes were consumed, a reliable local manufacturer was pinpointed and Versus Socks came to life. It took them quite some time to decide on a name for the socks. “Versus is often used in sport and we wanted a neutral name for the brand,” says Jurgens, a former pro-cyclist and current ambassador for Giant Bicycles. Jurgens recently started dabbling in trail running, which he loves.
The first Versus Socks samples were manufactured in August 2014 and by January 2015 the first pair was sold. In November 2015 the brand’s iconic Banana socks were launched. “The Banana socks were the first funky socks in SA and when it was launched it went completely crazy. Versus really exploded from that moment.” In October 2016 the partners moved their “office” from Hanno’s parent’s garage to their very own offices in Stellenbosch.
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The brand has grown so much that a brand new range of active and running socks were launched earlier this month, catering specifically for runners. “We’ve realised there aren’t funky and good looking socks in specifically the running market, and therefore more and more runners were running in our Versus Cycling Socks. So we decided to grow the brand to cater for runners as well. A while ago we started with the development of the new range of running and active socks, and we had 8 top runners testing and trying out our new range, while providing us with feedback over a period of 6 months. “We are very happy with the end product that is now available in Sportsmans Warehouse nationwide,” says Jurgens.
Versus socks are not just good-looking, but technically great. Here are some of the features:
1. Performance Running: Breathable, lightweight and moisture wicking. With a padded heel and toe, arch support and a mid-cuff length, it will provide you with superior comfort.
· Mid cuff length
· Moisture wicking
· Cushioned heel and toe
· 96% Nylon 4% Elastin
· Arch support
2. Performance Active: Specifically designed to provide you with a super comfortable fit. Whether you’re cycling, running, going to the gym, playing tennis, golf or any other sport, be ready to meet your new favourite pair of socks.
· Long cuff length
· Cushioned heel and toe
· 78% Cotton 18% Nylon 4% Elastin
· Arch support
· Your do-it-all active socks
“Our business has really grown very well this year,” says Jurgens, who together with Hanno and one employee work fulltime on the Versus brand. Working from their own premises also helps them to focus more on the business. “We are now more organized and structured and have more control. We also sell directly from the premises and we have more space for stock. All online and shop orders get packed and sent out from here,” says Jurgens. Versus Socks have been received very well internationally. “We’ve had loads of online orders internationally, but we now have distributors in some of the countries that sell our socks.”
Versus socks will be on display and for sale (Retail price is R120) at all major running expos in 2018, including the Comrades Marathon and Two Oceans. “We can’t wait to be at the expos. It is always a big highlight to interact with our customers directly. Look out for us at the expos where we will have the biggest sock wall in South Africa: 10m long and 2m high.”
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