The Versus Story – How We Got To The Million Mark!
It has been an all-consuming, sweat-inducing, socks-pulled-all-the-way-up journey from the manufacturing of our very first pair of sample socks to reaching the goal of one-million pairs of socks sold! And now we’re expanding beyond borders…
Let’s rewind all the way to the beginning…
Hanno Lategan and Jurgens Uys have always had entrepreneurial spirits and, as students, were looking out for exciting business opportunities.
As active young men, they shared their passion for sports and living an active, healthy lifestyle, but found that some of the kit available at the time just didn’t have the personality and creativity they were after. So, seeing the gap in the market and wanting to solve for their own desire for cool, comfortable, creative and performance-enhancing socks, they started investigating manufacturing socks in South Africa.
Designs were created, reliable local manufacturers were pinpointed and Versus Socks started coming to life, with the first samples created in August 2014.
The Garage Days
Hanno and Jurgens got their first order in January 2015 – but it wasn't big enough to justify two types of packaging (Race and Trail), so the guys ordered one type and applied the Race and Trail stickers by hand, out of Hanno’s parents’ garage, which was the original Versus HQ.
Jurgens applying race and trail stickers to packaging.
By March 2015, they had their first-ever stand at the Cape Town Cycle Tour Expo – a 2mx1m basic wooden structure with socks attached and a hand-written R79 sign. As both Hanno and Jurgens were cyclists, they understood the target market and the need for cool, comfortable, performance-driven socks. It was a great launch into the market.
Versus Socks first expo stand at the Life Cycle Expo, 2015.
By October 2016, Versus had started gaining traction, media recognition and turning a profit – enough so that Hanno and Jurgen’s moved out of the garage and into their first Versus Socks office.
Hanno's parents' garage, the original Versus Socks HQ.
A Foot In The Door
In November 2016, we got the OG Versus Socks Bakkie. Our trusted silver steed took us everywhere we went. We started travelling and expanding – getting our socks to events and into the hands of athletes and stores across South Africa.
The original Versus Socks bakkie.
By April 2017, we reached another big milestone: we got our socks into one of the large chain stores in South Africa: Sportsmans Warehouse – where you can still find our socks today.
Jurgens & Hanno at Sportsmans Warehouse after a very successful meeting.
“In May 2019, we opened our very own store – right in our home town of Stellenbosch, at 147B, Dorp Street. And this store still stands today,” says Hanno.
Opening night of the Versus Socks flagship store.
A Turn Of Events
Working our socks off in store and online, we reached 20k followers on instagram – a big marketing platform for us, where we interact directly with our customers and athletes and share our and their stories. To show our appreciation for the continued support, we celebrated with a 5km fun run in Stellenbosch and over 400 Versus fans showed up! This was the first of our “events”, in October 2019.
The 5km run celebrating 20k Instagram followers.
Sadly, a few months later, we went into lockdown, in 2020. But, to keep connecting with our audience and to keep spirits high, we launched a way to stay connected: the Versus Virtual Runs! In April 2020, over 16 000 people joined virtually to complete 5km in and around their houses.
And now, on 21 May 2022, Versus is hosting an epic trail running event, “Versus Run Party” in Franschhoek, with three distances: 7km, 13km and a 25km. (This is our second big trail event – some of you may remember the Summer Run Party!)
In October 2020, we expanded our reach into the UK. Why the move to the UK first? Hanno explains: “One of our team members moved to the UK and it created an opportunity for us to broaden our horizons. We also wanted to easily be able to reach out to all the South African expats living in the UK, who know and love the brand. Running, cycling and fitness is huge in the UK – and it's growing more and more. We’re so excited to have a strong footing in a country like the UK, with like-minded, passionate sports people,” he says.
Strategy meeting about expanding to the UK.
In January 2022, we reached the unbelievable one-million mark! That’s one-million pairs of socks sold to happy runners, cyclists and passionate sports and leisure lovers. We’re proud to now be stocked in other local retail giants such as Totalsports and Cape Union Mart. You can find a full list of stockists here.
“We are in the process of expanding to Australia and the Middle East next, with the USA as part of our longer-term strategy. However, we already ship internationally through our international online store,” says Hanno.
Visit intl.versussocks.com to send amazing socks anywhere in the world!
If there’s something particular you’d like to know more about or if you have some burning questions or, even, training advice, learnings or inspiration you’d like to share, please send a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. As we grow our blog and content, we’d love to hear your feedback!