Sock It To‘Em: Orlando Company Has Fun With Jacksonville’s Proposed Sculpture

Aug 2, 2021

Love it or hate it, the giant sculpture proposed for Downtown Jacksonville is generating plenty of buzz, which has an Orlando-based sock company cashing in.

Rock ‘Em Socks has employees scattered around the state, so it naturally got wind of Perkins and Will’s winning design with a distinctive massive-scale sculpture for the former Jacksonville Landing site. 

Like many people in Jacksonville, when the Rock 'Em Socks team first saw the sculpture, they saw a variety of words in their minds from the design by artist Jefrë. Jefrë has said his piece is "inspired by the different experiences of the St. Johns River," adding that it's not a sign, font or letters.

“So it first just started as a funny, you know, thing around the office. Water cooler talk that everyone was chatting about. We did a little internal poll of what people thought it said, and there are so many different variations of what people did interpret the statute as, that we're like, 'Oh, we gotta turn this into a sock,’” Rock ‘Em Socks Founder Rob Starkman told WJCT news Monday.

When people first see a rendering of the proposed sculpture they often first see a word that isn’t "Jax," such as "derp," "lerp" or "lox," so Rock ‘Em Socks figured why not throw all of them into a novelty sock?

Starkman said once they decided the idea was a go for production, they had it turned into a design and put it up on their website in practically no time.

“And then within 10 minutes, we had some orders. And we've been shipping them out for the last week. And it's been very popular," he said. 

All of Rock ‘Em Socks products are designed on site in Orlando. The company can turn an idea into a pair of socks in just a matter of hours, which is key to taking advantage of ideas that go viral on social media.

“Our entire mantra is that ‘first on foot.’ This is just one of many opportunities that we've gotten over the years that, you know, we have a quick turnaround time. So whether it's, you know, a funny statue in Florida, or whether it's Super Bowl champions, and we're shipping Tampa Bay [Super Bowl LV] socks out 10 minutes after they win, we have that capability,” Starkman said.

He estimates the design for the Jacksonville sock took about an hour once everyone agreed they should do it.

Rock ‘Em Socks launched a social media campaign to get the word out, with a light hearted gimmick: Starkman said his company is pledging to build a giant sock statue in Jacksonville if they sell $17.9 million worth of the socks.

You can order a pair of the Jacksonville sculpture socks here

As for the sculpture and the park that would go with it, the guys at The Jaxson are questioning whether the winning proposal can really be built for anywhere near $29 million dollars, which is the current estimate for the park and a mirror-finish version of the sculpture. They have their doubts, which you can read about here

Editor's Note: The idea for the headline in this story came from Rex Garvin & The Mighty Cravers' 1966 recording of the song "Sock It To'Em."

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.