An emerging Hokie tradition will once again put student creativity and Hokie pride on display in the week following the Thanksgiving holiday. Now entering its third year, it’s ex-sock-tly the right way to kick off the holiday season.

For just a short time, Hokies everywhere will have a chance to get a special pair of limited-edition, never-before-available Virginia Tech socks when they make a gift to support something they love about their school. The university hopes to build on the success of last year’s sock campaign, in which more than 7,500 pairs of socks were sent to supporters.

Students in the university’s Fashion Merchandising and Design program recently developed original patterns for new Virginia Tech socks, which were then voted on by Hokies around the world to determine which would be featured in this year’s campaign.

Professor Jung Eun Lee, a faculty member in the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management, helped students develop and submit their sock creations using illustration and design techniques they learned in her classes.

“I didn’t give the students too much direction in creating their designs,” she said, “so they are really the product of the students’ own creativity. It’s a really great experience for them to use a lot of the same process that professionals in the industry use, and to see the socks that they design really get made.”  

Over 4,000 members of the Hokie community voted on which of the student-created designs they liked the most. For the first time this year, supporters will have the option to choose between two styles that received widespread support from Hokie Nation.

Fashion merchandising and design student Nicole Tutino, who created the Hokie Skyline sock design.

Nicole Tutino, a junior studying fashion merchandising and design, created the Hokie Syline socks for the university's Giving Tuesday campaign.
Fashion merchandising and design student Nicole Tutino, who created the Hokie Skyline sock design.

Hokie Skyline, designed by junior Nicole Tutino, uses familiar Hokie colors to evoke the iconic Blue Ridge mountains, a recognizable sight to anyone who has spent time in Blacksburg.

“Wherever you are on campus, you can always look up and see mountains,” Tutino said. “They are something every Hokie can connect to because they are so prominent around campus.”

Tutino’s choice to use the university colors in her design offers a unique twist on the familiar landmark. “I wanted to make the mountains Hokie-themed by using maroon and orange,” she said. “Those colors are such a big part of the Hokie Spirit. The socks give off the idea of the mountains, but are also still a fun design someone would want to wear, and the contrast is eye-catching.”

Tutino, who is pursuing a double major in multimedia journalism and fashion merchandise and design, is passionate about both writing and fashion. “I entered Virginia Tech as a journalism major,” she said, “but I was missing having another creative outlet. Someday I would really like to work at a fashion magazine.”

Molly McDonald used her design to invite a question familiar to many Virginia Tech students, alumni, and fans. Her What is a Hokie? socks feature a HokieBird pattern over a maroon background.

“When I started to think about my design, I went to take a look at what was already out there,” McDonald said. “The bookstore doesn’t have a sock with this kind of pattern on it, with the smaller mascot repeated multiple times. I wanted to provide something that people wouldn’t already have.”

A senior majoring in fashion merchandising and design, McDonald’s interest in the field predates her time at Virginia Tech. She credits a high school art project focused on fashion illustration with helping her decide to pursue a career in the fashion industry.

Fashion merchandising and design student Molly McDonald, who created the What is a Hokie? sock design.

Molly McDonald, a senior studying fashion merchandising and design, created the What is a Hokie? socks for the university's Giving Tuesday campaign.
Fashion merchandising and design student Molly McDonald, who created the What is a Hokie? sock design.

“I knew I wanted to go into a creative career that was changing all the time, and fashion is changing every year, every season even,” McDonald said. “I started looking into college fashion programs and realized how great the program here at Virginia Tech is.”

As for the name of her design, McDonald says it represents a common question about the university’s mascot. “People ask, ‘What is a Hokie? What’s a HokieBird?’ It confuses some people, but it’s part of what makes us unique. I imagine these socks will be a conversation starter for alumni and fans.”

As for her response to the titular question, McDonald said: “We all know the answer. If someone asks you,’What is a Hokie?’ the answer is, “I am!’” 

In honor of Giving Tuesday, a worldwide charitable giving event that follows on the heels of Thanksgiving each year, both styles will be available to Hokies who give $10 or more in support of any of the university’s colleges, departments, programs, or funds. Both designs are available only in limited quantities through Wednesday, Dec. 1, meaning that Hokies hoping to sock-ure a pair for themselves should order while they still can.

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