Anna Niklova captures the swagger of “extravagant” socks and mismatched footwear

When Anna Niklova (Illustration ’18), notices an appealing flash of color in a passerby’s outfit, she is quick to offer a compliment.  In her senior year she began noticing a less subtle trend. Call it accessories grandstanding. “Funky, colorful socks with all kinds of patterns came into vogue, often with footwear adapted to show off the designs,” she said. Niklova decided to capture the sock-and-footwear swagger.

Sock and footwear swagger

For her Senior Book Illustration class with Professor John Nickle, she adapted and expanded her sock-and-shoe illustrations. The working title for the 24-page book is “Sock in Shoes that they don’t belong in…or do they?”

“I was intrigued by how accessories change and adapt.  I saw how capturing an emerging trend captivates others as well,” she says.

Groundbreaking: socks in heels that allow for pedicure drying

“Socks in heels seemed groundbreaking. I was seeing it everywhere,” says Niklova. “I  concentrated on the socks in this [above] illustration. It was challenging to portray sheer, embroidered socks. I liked the idea of being able to show off a pedicure even in cold weather!” she says.

“I totally loved Anna’s book — her sense of humor and her illustration style. Her shoe and sock styles are so on point with trends and fads.” – Sarah Mullins, Chair, Accessories Design

The “Dad” combo

“Socks and sandals seem like the most stereotypical ‘wrong’ combination! It’s been mocked as a ‘dad’ fashion choice. I wanted to show a look that’s somewhat in between; it still looks like a dad combo, but a relatively cool one,” she says.

“Prof. Nickle encouraged me to add text to my work. It was fun creating lines for each illustration and using sign painters’ inspired fonts. I wanted the book to be colorful, quirky and fashionable but also funny, which is partially why I chose a ridiculously long [book] title,” says Niklova.

“What I love about Anna’s book is that it’s a concept book that is both goofy and sophisticated. She seamlessly blends retro type design, graphic design and nuanced illustration.” – Professor John Nickle, Illustration 

Jelly Shoes aka “Jellies”

Jelly shoes, plastic shoes also known as “jellies,” were the most fun for Niklova. “They can be uncomfortable to wear without socks, so people have gotten to wearing colorful, patterned socks with right colored jelly shoes. Because of the shoe’s transparency, it begs for a fun pattern to show through. I also had fun with the different meanings of ‘jelly,’” she says.

Anna Niklova’s engaging and sophisticated illustrations have street cred and they certainly demonstrate her design chops. Her work captures how individuals drive trends, in this case by adapting accessories in ways that are both useful and wonderfully expressive. By bridging two of our design areas–accessories and illustration—she represents innovative and interdisciplinary approaches that typify FIT.” – Troy Richards, Dean, School of Art and Design

Flip flops have a Tabi-socks-in-Zori-shoes origin

The thong flip flop has some history beyond NYC sidewalks. “My original vision was unflattering,  yet it turned out looking better than most socks with flip flops do. Maybe I should have gone for the five-toe-socks, which have a slightly disconcerting look,” she says.

“I visited Japan over the summer and gained a new perspective on this combination. I am working on an illustration of the traditional Tabi socks in the Zori shoes, the origin behind the westernized flip flops.

Birkenstocks flaunting a new trend

“Birkenstocks are especially personal. I used to think of them as shoes you might only wear at home, or as pharmaceutical footwear. But I fell in love with them and now spend the  summer in them. I’ll carry a pair of socks in my bag for when it gets cooler at night. I  enjoyed picking the colors for this one, using the light blue for the outlines as well as creating the socks’ pattern,” says Niklova.

New York City streets serve as a  sock and footwear runway

“It’s getting cooler and more funky sock-shoe combinations are popping up. I am expanding the book and hope to share it with a larger audience. I want to inspire others to experiment with their footwear and extravagant socks. Everyone has to keep their feet warm. Have a little fun with it!”

To see more of Anna Niklova’s work go to: AnnaNiklova


All images used with permission.

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