Happy Socks Celebrates "Always Walk With Pride" Campaign
An inside look at Happy Socks’ Pride Bash hosted by Aquaria, at Spin New York.
An inside look at Happy Socks’ Pride Bash hosted by Aquaria, at Spin New York.
Text: Daisy Kim
On June 8, Happy Socks threw the ultimate ping-pong Pride party to celebrate the launch of their Always Walk With Pride Campaign and collaboration with The Phluid Project. What better way to kick off the beginning of Pride month!
The event took place at SPIN and was hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 Winner Aquaria with music provided by DJ Ty Sunderland. Other notable attendees include The Phluid Project’s Rob Smith, RuPaul’s Drag Race Alum Scarlett Envy, TV Personality Miss J, RHOSLC, and Jewelry Designer Meredith Marks, RHOC Braunwyn Windham-Burke.
Continuing its support for the LGBTQIA+ community, Happy Socks is taking bigger steps to provide even more space to focus on genuinity and visibility throughout the year. In addition to its signature Pride collection, the brand launched its third special edition collection with The Phluid Project, the world’s first gender-free store and movement dedicated to challenging gender stereotypes.
V caught up with Happy Socks’ Kelly Barton, The Phluid Project’s Rob Smith, & Drag superstar Aquaria to discuss the campaign & the meaning of Pride in 2022.
V Magazine: Thank you for having us at the event! It’s been so much fun. Why was Aquaria the perfect face to represent the Happy Socks x The Phluid Project collaboration and host tonight’s event?
Kelly Barton: It really comes down to self-expression and that's one of our number one values. Basically, our company started wanting to have color, creativity and self-expression, and allow that for everybody, not just a select few. Aquaria is the epitome of self-expression, owning who you are and feeling comfortable in your skin. It should be about having fun and showing your personality, and your creativity!
Rob Smith: I didn’t have a choice! Actually, I think between Aquaria and myself, there’s a great balance between who we are as individuals, even our stories. We both have very amazing perspectives. Very different, but also very united. I think that’s how the queer community is. We come from different places, but ultimately we have the same intent, the same interest, the same voice. I appreciate Aquaria for who she is, and what she represents. On the other hand, I’m probably a bit more serious and a have a little bit more activist in me, but we all live under the queer umbrella. I think the beauty is that we are a really diverse, incredible community. I’m really honored to be a part of this with Aquaria.
V: Aquaria, how do you feel being one of the honorary guests for this pride collaboration?
AQUARIA: Socks are one size fits all so that’s why I was the perfect fit! On a serious note, I love it. I love promoting pride, I love getting to perform in front of people at events, I love getting to be in spaces that I’m usually not in all the time and getting to chitchat. So when we were doing these little video segments, it was nice to have an opportunity to express myself and get interviewed about not necessarily what tour I'm going on next, or what my next thing is—you know they're not interviewing me about my new book coming out next month. I’m kidding, I don't have a new book. It's just nice to get to be a face for so many people who might not ever have a face, might not ever have a voice. My words are not always the best of the best, but hopefully, they mean something to someone.
V: How is Happy Socks approaching Pride month differently this year?
A: Well now, they always make sure to put two of the same pair of socks in the box at the same time. No mixing and matching! It's all about having fun. It's all about showing a little bit of pizzazz when you accessorize. Having people like Rob and myself get to be a part of this fun campaign, and sharing where we're coming from in our backgrounds, it's [about] getting to promote any sort of LGBTQIA+ talking point or issues, besides having two of the same socks.
V: Speaking of, are you wearing a pair of the Pride Happy Socks?
A: Of course! We’re trying to get paid, hello!
KB: This isn’t our first rodeo! What pride is in 2022 is about allowing our platform to be used in a positive way, which we certainly have been doing, but a behind-the-scenes type of way. I think it's important for brands like Happy Socks to sometimes just be quiet and let other people speak, so that's what you'll see from Happy Socks not only just the month of June, and that's one thing that we're really passionate about. It's not just one month of the year, Pride is 365 days of the year.
V: That’s right, the pride collection for Happy Socks is available all year round.
A: If I have to wear this shit every day, so do you! We’re all in this together!
KB: Please quote that! Can that be our campaign next year?
A: I’m available! Call in the next 5 minutes and you get a 5% discount! Throw in an extra pair of socks!
V: What does pride mean to you?
RS: Pride is our history. For over 50 years, people have been fighting for our rights for our sexual orientation, our gender identity, for our existence, and [I'm] proud of the fact that we can exist today based on who we love and how we identify. We're part of an amazing community of people that are part of the rainbow, [which is] so magnificent, so unique. If I was outside looking inside at the queer community, I would say, “wow, I wish I was part of that,” because we're amazing—we're lesbian, we’re gay, we’re bisexual, we’re intersex, we’re queer questioning, we're agender, asexual, two-spirit, we are sometimes no label, but we're accepting and welcoming to all folks of all ages, races, ethnicities. I can't think of any other community that's as welcoming and diverse as we are. I'm also proud of the people that show up every day, not just in June, but their sheer existence of showing up makes me proud to be part of this community. People walk in the street and they're like, this is who I am. They go into work and say, this is who I am, regardless of whether you accept me or not, this is my identity. And, I think the whole world could learn a lot from us and accept a lot more people. If you accept the LGBTQIA+ community, you could accept a lot of other people. We're just one group of people that have been held back and marginalized for way too long, but we can't be held back anymore. We’re remarkable and unstoppable.
V: Which sock is your favorite from the Pride collection?
A: I like the ones I’m wearing in the photo shoot! I think we're all in the same boat [in thinking that] some pride stuff can come off like super corny. But, I feel like Happy Socks designs right now are all pieces that you can wear and not feel like they're giving cringey pride. When you see brands doing pride collections that are just butt ugly, it's like this is clearly just for the internet and not for the consumer. So I feel like this collection really gives you something where it's like, oh, these polka dots make sense with an outfit. But yes my favorite is the black socks with the little rainbows. It reminds me of The Wizard of Oz!
KB: For me, it’d be remiss of me to not say our big dot, which is what we’re known for. It’s like our tried-and-true, what we’re known for and the fact that we had it be taken over, I think is a good statement for the brand.
RS: My favorite sock is the Progressive Pride flag sock. It includes the pride colors, the trans colors, brown and black, it's the Daniel Quasar flag. Just being inclusive of the entire queer community. I'm grateful that they're not just being performative, that they're actually showing up in a real way. And that's why Phluid and Happy Socks is a great collaboration because there's not a women's or men's sock collection, which is what I love. It’s small or large. And when you think about it, that's how feet are you know. I feel like my husband and I share socks, but he has small feet, I have large feet, but it works.
KB: I always grab my husband’s socks from the laundry pile and he’s a size 13, I’m a size 7! But, I think that’s a testament to the collection because it doesn’t matter who it is.
RS: Feet don’t have gender. So, how do you go from socks and work your way up? From your feet to your head, and everything in between. How can we use clothing or accessories to express ourselves regardless of what society says we should or shouldn't do? We should just be able to express ourselves regardless of societal expectations, and just be willing to be, and wear what we want to wear. And I love these socks because honestly when I put them on, I feel happy. I feel proud.
KB: Right?! You feel happy!
RS: I want to wear joggers, just to show my socks off. I mean, to have socks create emotion is kind of a weird thing, because socks are supposed to be the last player in the show, versus your top and your pants. But then to wear socks as the lead actor in a show, it's fucking amazing.
KB: Instead of it being a non-consideration, it’s becoming a conversation piece.
The Phluid collection will be available on ThePhluidProject.com, Happy Socks’ stores in the US and on Happysocks.com and selected retailers starting this June. 10% of net sales of the products sold all year long will be donated to The Phluid Phoundation - a nonprofit that directs critical funds to the most at risk in the LGBTQ+ community, specifically BIPOC-led organizations that serve the transgender community and homeless queer youth.