December 19, 2014

Words by Tami Tsansai


You’ve probably heard of pum pum shorts, but Pum Pum Socks? That’s sure to raise a few eyebrows. Just launched last month, the fashion-forward footwear line by that name has already been brandished by the likes of Lana Del Rey and Rita Ora, and retailed by such noted stockists as Opening Ceremony, Brown’s of London and VFiles in New York. And we just had to include Pum Pum Socks on our Holiday Gift Guide this season, as well.

Steeped in the cultures of Jamaican dancehall and Japanese Harajuku, the Caribbean-flavoured brand packs a solid punch with its strong message, attractive packaging and steely vision. We expect no less than to see Pum Pum Socks gracing the stems of it-girl models on runways, fashion spreads and in music videos for 2015. Wait until Rih Rih gets wind of these babies! Naturally, we had to speak to the stylistas behind the line — Jamaican-British stylist Savannah Baker and Bermuda-born, London-based accessory designer Gemma Shane — to find out the big idea behind their impressive debut collection. Check it!

LargeUp: Love the name Pum Pum Socks. How did you get the idea to put a new spin on a derogatory term, and use it for your brand?

Gemma Shane: The name came about in 2012 when Savannah as with friends at Road Block, in Port Antonio. Savannah as usual was repping the socks and her friend shouted “Oi oi Pum Pum Socks!” Sav instantly knew that was the name of the brand.

Savannah Baker: Pum Pum Socks is similar to the idea of female rappers like Nicki Minaj reclaiming derogatory words like ‘bitch’ about women. Pum Pum socks are for the gyals of Jamaica and the world who represent this femininity and strength. In dancehall there are a handful of women giving it back, and Pum Pum socks stands with them.

We are roots girls. The brand is linked to the love of Jamaica, culture and music. We don’t feel bracketed into one box. We understand [the name] Pum Pum Socks, to traditional and conventional folk, is quite shocking. But it does have a nice ring to it, and the lifestyle behind the brand is nothing but positive. We imagined we might get some resistance, but so far there has been nothing but love and… laughs. Pum Pum is not [that common of a term outside Jamaica] so it’s rather tongue-in-cheek. If you know, you know and if not… teehee!

LU: What kind of fabric and embellishments do you use for your socks?

GS: We want to balance design with practicality and durability. We produce small quantities of each style each season which means each style is limited edition. The composition is 72% cotton, 27% nylon and 1% Elastane. The sock includes a gold palm logo embroidered on side of sock and jacquard logo on the sole of the foot. This Spring/Summer 15 collection is the first, and includes mainly lace, satin ribbon and organza trims [but] we have quite a lot up our sleeves for the future to mix it up.


LU: How long has your line been around and what has the feedback been like so far?

SB: Pum Pum Socks officially launched November 27, 2014. [I] started making the socks for [my] own wear and styling in late 2009, early 2010. The brand became official November 2013 when we became business partners. People often thought it had already launched. We had some great press featuring the socks before the product was even available to the wider market.

You’re both pretty established in your fields and bring a lot to the table. How and why did you make the decision to collaborate on a line? What made you form this partnership?

SB: We crossed paths when we were younger in the UK and Bermuda, then some years later we both were working on the same shoot. After discussing what we each had been doing for the past few years, Pum Pum Socks came up… and the rest is history. 
We balance each other perfectly and have a sistah ting going. I am not business-minded, and Gemz was totally the missing link.

LU: Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs, and does it have anything to do with the names of each style?

GS: The names of each style actually come after the confirmed look, and is chosen based on what embodies the gyal/ or the look of the socks. As mentioned earlier we try to have a very balanced line so each type of gyal out there is attracted to a different sock depending on her personality and vibe. Savannah is around fashion and different people enough to try and gauge this. We are not necessarily following the fashion seasons and colour trends, but doing more of what we think could create an interesting look and pull an outfit together. There are five styles.

LU: What’s your vision for the brand? Any expansion plans? A line of socks for men, maybe?

SB: The socks are just the start. The branding is so fun and original that we hope to expand into many sectors to spread the island love. We are going to do Pum Pum Parties. The basis of the parties is about being true, and again, love. The main objective for the launch was having the vibes like you were in Jamaica with no judgment. There was a great mix of people that really love the music, and if you didn’t know the music, the high energy connected everyone together. Another [feature of] the parties is gyal characters repping the socks… all very highly stylised in our “Candy Ragga” branding. We are also looking into supporting a Jamaican charity that empowers women. We plan to expand with a men’s line in the future— without a frill, though. Then we’ll work on expanding the range to key accessories. We want to spread the island love to everyone!

LU: Who is the Pum Pum Gyal consumer.

SB: It’s inspired by Jamaica’s motto Out of Many One People. A Pum Pum Gyal can be any girl or woman, and of course not just Jamaican. It’s an attitude—we are gyals and not afraid to be gyally or strong.