Rise of the Humble Sock: Halal Version
It is a piece of clothing usually condemned to the lowest drawers and recesses of the wardrobe. Sometimes left in the hallway, under the bed, on the steps, even in the sand box of children’s’ parks. It seems nobody gives two hoots about the neglected pair of socks. After all we can always buy new ones. But it seems times are changing.
Credit goes to our Prime Minister and his stylish and enthusiastic entry in the Toronto Pride Parade this year and to MP Omar Al Ghabra, who presented the Prime Minister this pair of socks for Eid. The day coincided with the end of Ramadan celebration, otherwise called Eid. Who knew sunny ways promised by him at the commencement of term as Canadian premier included a saunter in a pair of coloured socks sporting the greeting Eid Mubarak all over them. Canadian pride, Eid festivities, the warm sun, plenty of family…what can be more Canadian, eh?
Those of us who were welcoming the re entry of lunch in our daily routine, (after nearly a month of fasting) namely the Canadian Muslims, were delighted by this endearing action of Mr. Trudeau. A plethora of news reports, articles plus millions of comments, likes, shares etc. on the so called social media proved loads of others were equally delighted. So once again the Prime Minister reminded the world that he possesses the mythological Midas touch. Everything he happens to touch, turns to gold. This incident proved, not only do his hands do the trick, but also in this case; his feet.
Halal Socks, the official brand name of the now famous socks, have become a worldwide sensation. Did anybody expect this to happen? I thought the best people to ask are the creators of Halal Socks and here is what they had to say about how they felt after their socks became famous.
TheLinkCanada: Did you ever expect that your socks will get the worldwide attention they did after our Prime Minister wore a pair to the pride parade? Tell us the whole story.
HalalSocks: To be honest, we were completely blown away by the incredible amount of attention, love, and support we received. We had no idea the socks would even get to Justin Trudeau, let alone that he would wear them on two separate occasions. The most wonderful part of the experience was that it reaffirmed our belief that there needs to be better representation for Islamic choices, thanks to how strongly our socks resonated with so many people.
After designing our first collection, we wanted to get opinions and feedback from prominent leaders in our community. One of them was Omar Algabra, a Member of Parliament who represents central Mississauga. He instantly loved the idea and was proud to see Muslim entrepreneurship. We then gifted him two of our Happy Eid pairs in hopes that he would present one to Canada’s biggest sock enthusiast: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
A few days later, Algabra sent us a video of Trudeau wearing them at a Project Ramadan basket build. He showcased his socks and wished everyone an Eid Mubarak. We could not believe our eyes! In fact, Sara started crying with happiness and disbelief. We were beyond excited and received many inquiries from people wanting to purchase the socks.
Fortunately, the excitement did not stop there. On Eid-Ul-Fitr, only three days after the Project Ramadan event, Sherry was browsing through the news and came across the Toronto Star article about Trudeau’s Eid Mubarak socks. To our surprise, he wore the pair yet again. This time, he wanted to simultaneously celebrate Eid and Pride as they fell on the same day. We could not imagine in our wildest dreams that Justin Trudeau would wear them once, let alone twice at a public event.
TheLinkCanada: In your opinion what does this incident tell the world about the inclusivity of the Canadian culture?
HalalSocks: I think one of our proudest accomplishments is how we played a tiny part in what this moment said about Canada and Canadian values on the world stage. We are a country proud of our diversity, and that pride is reflected in coming together to celebrate our differences, the exchange of values, beliefs, cultures and identities to create a country with ideals greater than the sum of its parts. Here was our leader, raised Catholic, wearing socks celebrating Islam at an event celebrating LGBTQ pride. Eid fell on the same day as pride this year, so showing his support was a reflection on the actions he has already taken as a PM – one of respect for people from all levels of society.
TheLinkCanada: I was surfing the net and noticed that while most people have responded positively to the now famous Halal Socks, there is also a lot of negative publicity. How do you handle this?
HalalSocks: Our team tries to address the concerns and criticisms, but we are a very small team and are aware that not everyone shares our values and beliefs, which have been formed by our Canadian and Islamic identity. It initially saddened us, but ultimately, we realized we were doing something meaningful even if it was ruffling a few feathers while generating so much love and support. Everyone doing something worth discussing always generates some criticism, justified or not. So we use that as positive reinforcement now.
TheLinkCanada: Why only socks? Why not other articles of clothing? How did it all start?
HalalSocks: We wanted to start with socks because we felt as Muslims, socks have a special visibility in daily life through prayer, and frankly, there was no representation of anything Islamic in what we felt would be the most natural area to show cultural and religious pride.
Last Eid Ul-Fitr, Sara was having difficulties finding a festive gift for her husband Sherry. Knowing his passion for socks, she was looking for Eid-themed ones. After hours of searching online, she couldn’t come across anything even remotely close to what she was looking for. This is when we had a lightbulb moment and Halal Socks was created.
Although we’ve started with socks, we plan to branch out into other articles of clothing soon.
TheLinkCanada: Tell us something about the production side of your business? Where are the socks made? How do you market them? Who are the potential customers?
HalalSocks: While designed and sampled in Canada, our socks are manufactured in China and Turkey. Each pair is carefully crafted with 80% combed cotton to provide the utmost comfort to your feet.
We market Halal Socks through celebrity endorsements, social media, and word of mouth.Currently, our target market consists of men and women. It’s for anyone who wants to show pride in their religious identity, solidarity with the Islamic faith, a celebration of many cultures that are either often negatively represented or simply under-represented, and people who want to add a little style to their step. We are looking to expand our sock line to better cater to women (smaller sizes, different designs) and kids.
TheLinkCanada: Do you plan to expand your business? Any advice for other young Canadians who have innovative ideas and want to start a business like yours?
HalalSocks: We are coming out with our Women’s and Children’s line soon. We also plan to expand by creating other articles of clothing.
The best advice we can give is to never give up, no matter what. Nothing is built in a day, so you must keep going at it and if you fail, don’t worry about it – the most important thing is that you learn from your mistakes. Take us for example; Halal Socks was not our first attempt, but Alhamdulillah we persevered and kept on believing in ourselves. The Halal Socks team has created, an outstanding and unique way to represent Muslim and Canadian pride and spirit through their halal socks. This is an excellent way to inspire the youth in our community to put their ideas out there and try to create a change that leaves a strong impact.
Halal Socks, starting out as an Eid gift idea, became incredibly popular. This simple and usually overlooked article of clothing was able to leave such an impact. It represented clearly, the inclusivity of the Canadian culture, which is accepting of different people. Who knew the bottom drawer dwellers would come such a long way?
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This article has been co-written by Mariam Kilany:
“Mariam Kilany is a high school student with ambitions to empower Muslims with the power of writing. She enjoys reading books and writing them and plans to follow in her father’s footsteps by becoming a successful doctor and a novelist.”
(All photos courtesy of Halal Socks)