Developed by Riley Goodman and Jake Director, two former Washington state lacrosse champions, the built-for-performance Strideline sock was patiently tweaked over a four-year period. Then the first 1,000 pairs sold out in three weeks. The current iteration features terry strap banding around the instep and ankle to provide a snug fit, athletic support, and durability. Of course, what you're probably going to notice right off the bat aren't the technical specs but the distinctive designs. Strideline's flagship product, the City Sock, is splashed with an intarsia rendering of each city's skyline so locals and fans in Pittsburgh, Chicago, L.A., and eight other cities can show their pride.
Fans aren't the only ones flaunting these socks. Denver Nuggets guard Nate Robinson, L.A. Clippers guard Jamal Crawford, and Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Gibson have all pulled on pairs. Running back Marshawn Lynch wore Stridelines in last season's NFL playoffs. The Seahawks fell to the Falcons, but he made an impression anyway – and stayed dry thanks to a sweat-wicking cotton-poly blend.
"We've traveled to Asia 10 times and also made a trip to Italy in the past year visiting mills and sock specialists for the sole purpose of developing the highest-quality crew sock on the market," says Goodman. "We'll probably never feel completely satisfied."
With an expanding lineup of new designs in the works as well as continual adjustments to the strapped fit, Goodman and Director hope to take their product offering outside of socks to become an elite athletic brand, like Adidas or Under Armour. But, for now, they're happy to give athletes an excuse to ditch the swoosh for a panorama. [Strideline City Socks, $13.95; strideline.com]