QUEENS — One Forest Hills shop owner is betting the success of his Austin Street store on the popularity of one often-overlooked accessory: socks.
Dmitry Toscano, 30, is the owner of Dmitry Ties, which also sells ties and pocket squares. Toscano is so certain that colorful socks are the hottest trend in fashion that he got rid of the shirts that filled his shelves for years and replaced them with dozens of socks instead.
“These socks are fun,” said Toscano. “They are really trendy.”
“When you raise your leg and people notice your sock, it can start a nice conversation as people comment on them,” he added.
Toscano said he noticed the new wave of brightly patterned socks for the first time a couple of months ago in Italy, where he travels frequently.
“All the Italians were wearing those socks,” said Toscano, who added that Europe is typically nine to 10 months ahead of the U.S. when it comes to fashion trends. “You would see a businessman wearing a nice, sophisticated suit, and then he would have orange socks with blue polka dots."
After he returned to the U.S., Toscano said he decided to replace his stock of slow-selling shirts with socks.
At first, he put them in a small section at the back of the store. But the socks, made by Italian company Lorenzo Uomo, started selling so fast that Toscano soon displayed them all over the store. He also started matching them with the shop's ties.
Now, Toscano offers socks that come in a range of about 50 different patterns, from solid green and orange, to argyle and polka dots.
The socks, he said, can say a lot about the men who wear them. Conservative men, for example, tend to choose more subdued colors, like blue or grey, while younger customers like brighter colors and funky patterns.
“They want to be noticed,” Toscano said.
Many women in the area have also noticed the socks, he said. Some have bought pairs for boyfriends or husbands, but others want colorful socks for themselves. Toscano said that women who have a shoe size of 8 and up can fit into them.
Toscano first came to the U.S. 10 years ago to study international marketing at St. John’s University. But he said he has always had an eye for fashion, starting when his grandfather, who owned a fabrics warehouse in Rome, would take him there and teach him about various textiles and designs.
Each of the shop's ties was designed by Toscano himself. They are produced at a factory in Como, Italy.
Toscano said he predicts the colorful sock trend will be followed by a surge in the popularity of colorful shoelaces.
“It’s already a big trend in Europe,” said Toscano, who hopes to introduce shoelaces in his store some time soon.
Dmitry Ties is located at 72-28 Austin Street, Forest Hills. Socks cost $14 for a pair (2 pairs for $22).