Sibusiso Ngwenya aims to revolutionize the men’s fashion industry, one foot at a time. The 1,9m tall Ngwenya’s pants never reached all the way down to his shoes and he always felt he needed to compensate for the space between his shoes and where his pants would end. He did this by wearing very colourful socks as part of his overall style and look. By 2012, Ngwenya had already collected over 70 pairs of socks, mostly by international brands. At this point he spotted a gap in the South African market and had the idea of making a business out of designing home-grown superior quality socks. “I had just bought 14 pairs of socks at a retail store and my mother asked me, ‘Actually, why don’t you start selling these socks since you have so many of them?'” Ngwenya says.
The company is tapping into a global trend. The men’s sock industry is undergoing a global transformation and projected growth in the sector is set to continue beyond 2023. According to research company NDP, the garment historically worn for warmth and protection is shifting from commodity to fashion statement, with growth over the past few years transforming it into a $5.6 billion industry as of the 12 months ending August 2014. Skinny Sbu Socks as a brand is at the premium end of the spectrum, creating small batch limited edition collections. The company aims to grow by focusing on a niche market, expanding the product catalogue to include women’s hosiery and children.
Sibusiso was born and raised in Tsakane, starting his first business venture at the age of 21. After attending art school and a year of studying Political Science at the University of Johannesburg, Sibusiso decided to pursue his creative passion full time, focusing on his acting pursuits. Since getting into the sock business in 2013, Sbu now channels his creative energies into designing the sock collections for the brand.