On June 8, Happy Socks hosted the ultimate Pride ping pong 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 start 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 Rob Smith of The Phluid Project, Scarlett Envy of RuPaul’s Drag Race Alum, TV personality Miss J, RHOSLC and jewelry designer Meredith Marks, RHOC Braunwyn Windham-Burke.
Continuing its support of the LGBTQIA+ community, Happy Socks is taking greater steps to provide even more space to focus on authenticity and visibility all year round. Along with its signature Pride collection, the brand launched its third special-edition collection with The Phluid Project, the world’s first genderless store and movement dedicated to challenging gender stereotypes.
V caught up with Happy Socks’ Kelly Barton, The Phluid Project’s Rob Smith and Drag superstar Aquaria to discuss the campaign and what Pride means in 2022.
Magazine V: Thanks for inviting us to the event! It was 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 core values. Basically, our company started out wanting to have color, creativity, and self-expression, and allow that for everyone, not just the select few. Aquaria is the epitome of self-expression, owning who you are and feeling good about yourself. It should be about having fun and showing off your personality and creativity!
Rob Smith: I had no choice ! In fact, I think between Aquaria and me, there’s a great balance between who we are as individuals, even our stories. We both have very amazing prospects. Very different, but also very united. I think that’s what the queer community is like. We come from different places, but ultimately we have the same intention, the same interest, the same voice. I appreciate Aquaria for who she is and what she stands for. On the other hand, I’m probably a bit more serious and have a bit more activism in me, but we all live under the queer umbrella. I think the beauty is that we’re a really diverse and amazing community. I’m truly honored to be a part of this with Aquaria.
V: Aquaria, how does it feel to be one of the guests of honor at this collaborative pride?
AQUARIA: The socks are one size, that’s why I was the perfect fit! Seriously, I love it. I love promoting pride, I love performing in front of people at events, I love being in spaces where I’m not usually all the time and chatting. So when we were doing these little video segments, it was nice to have the opportunity to express myself and be interviewed, not necessarily about the next tour that I’m going to do, or what I’m going to do next—yYou know they won’t be interviewing me about my new book coming out next month. Just kidding, I don’t have a new book. It’s just nice to be able to be a face for so many people who may never have a face, who may never have a voice. My words aren’t always the best of the best, but I hope 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 identical pairs of socks in the box at the same time. No mix and match! It’s about having fun. It’s all about showing off a bit of pizzazz when you accessorize. To have people like Rob and myself to be part of this fun campaign, and to share where we come from in our backgrounds, is [about] happen to promote any type of LGBTQIA+ talking point or issue, in addition to having two identical socks.
V: Speaking of which, do you wear a pair of Pride Happy Socks?
A: Sure! We are trying to get paid, hello!
KB: This is not our first rodeo! What’s proud of in 2022 is allowing our platform to be used in a positive way, which we’ve certainly done, but behind the scenes. I think it’s important for brands like Happy Socks to shut up sometimes and let other people do the talking, so that’s what you’ll see from Happy Socks, not just in June, and that’s one thing that really excites us. 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 are all in the same boat!
KB: Please quote this! Can this be our campaign next year?
A: I’m available! Call in the next 5 minutes and you get a 5% discount! Add an extra pair of socks!
V: What does pride mean to you?
RS: Pride is our story. For more than 50 years, people have been fighting for our rights, our sexual orientation, our gender identity, our existence and [I’m] proud that we can exist today based on who we love and how we identify. We are part of an amazing community of people who are part of the rainbow, [which is] so beautiful, so unique. If I was outside looking at the queer community on the inside, I’d say ‘wow, I’d love to be part of it’, because we’re amazing – we’re lesbians, we’re gay, we’re bisexual, we’ We are intersex, we are questioning queer, we are agender, asexual, two-spirited, we are sometimes unlabeled, but we accept and welcome all people of all ages, races, ethnicities. I can’t think of any other community as welcoming and diverse as ours. I’m also proud of the people who show up every day, not just in June, but their mere presence makes me proud to be part of this community. People are walking down the street and they’re like, this is who I am. They go to work and say, this is who I am, 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 many other people. We are just a group of people who have been held back and marginalized for too long, but we can’t be held back anymore. We are remarkable and unstoppable.
V: Which sock is your favorite from the Pride collection?
A: I love the ones I wear in the photoshoot! I think we’re all in the same boat [in thinking that] some pride stuff can be super cheesy. But, I feel like the Happy Socks designs right now are all pieces you can wear without feeling like they’re giving squeaky pride. When you see brands making pride collections that are just ugly, it’s like it’s 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, those polka dots make sense with an outfit. But yes my favorites are the black socks with the little rainbows. It reminds me The Wizard of Oz!
KB: To me, it would be remiss of me not to say our big point, what we’re known for. It’s like our proven track record, what we’re known for and the fact that we’ve taken it over, I think that’s a good statement for the brand.
RS: My favorite sock is the Progressive Pride flag sock. It includes the pride colors, trans colors, brown and black, this is the Daniel Quasar flag. Just being inclusive of the whole queer community. I am grateful that they are not just performative, that they actually present themselves in a real way. And that’s why Phluid and Happy Socks is a great collaboration because there is no collection of women’s or men’s socks, that’s what I like. It’s big or small. And when you think about it, that’s what feet are like, you know. I feel like my husband and I share socks, but he has small feet, I have big 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 it’s a testament to the collection because it doesn’t matter who it is.
RS: Feet have no sex. So how do you switch socks and progress? From your feet to your head, and everything in between. How can we use clothes 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 society’s expectations, and just be ready 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 off my socks. I mean, having socks that create emotion is kind of a weird thing, because socks are supposed to be the last player in the show, compared to your top and pants. But then, wearing socks as a lead actor on a show is fucking amazing.
KB: Instead of being a non-consideration, it becomes a topic of conversation.
The Phluid collection will be available at ThePhluidProject.com, Happy Socks stores in the US and at Happysocks.com and select retailers starting in June. 10% of the turnover of products sold throughout the year will be donated to The Poundation of Phluid – a non-profit organization that distributes critical funds to those most at risk in the LGBTQ+ community, particularly BIPOC-led organizations that serve the transgender community and homeless gay youth.
Credits: All images courtesy of Happy Socks.