Socks won't be the punchline of jokes this holiday season.
Once known as an often-dreaded holiday or birthday gift handed out by thrifty grandmas, socks are having their fashion moment.
According to market research company NPD Group, socks have become a statement piece, and sales growth in the category has outpaced that of the broader apparel market for the past two years. Last year, sales were up 8 percent from the prior year, making socks a $5.6 billion industry, NPD said.
Men are mostly responsible for the shift, with 73 percent of men wearing socks almost every day compared with only 41 percent of women.
"Men are driving the growth in this category because over the past few years, socks have become yet another outlet for expressing the extra splash of pattern and color they seek," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD.