Sock it to Them

By: Mark Gordon | Managing Editor

February 11, 2011

Natalia Muntean is the U.S. spokeswoman for Akkua, an Italian clothing company that specializes in technical sports socks. The company recently entered the United States, with a sales and distribution office based in Sarasota. Photo by Rod Millington.

Pasta, pizza and now, socks.

The final installment could be the latest Italian staple to make it stateside.

The socks, made by Akkua, pronounced like aqua, are specially designed and manufactured for a variety of specific sports and athletic pursuits. Created by three Italian entrepreneurs in 2003, the technical sports socks have also become a hot seller in Italy and other European countries. 

“It’s a very unique product,” says Natalia Muntean, the U.S. spokeswoman for Akkua. “It’s different than anything else out on the market.”

The socks are made from a combination of materials that provide a non-roll, non-slip cushion, Muntean says. An inner layer prevents against bacteria and keeps feet clean and nearly sweat-free. The socks come in a variety of styles, sizes and colors.

Muntean will play a key role in what the company hopes will be the American Akkua revolution. A Sarasota resident and Ukrainian native, Muntean was hired by the firm to pitch the socks at tradeshows nationwide. Akkua’s U.S. distribution and sales center will be based in Sarasota. 

Akkua plans to aim big and small for its sales targets, says Muntean. It hired sales reps to go after some large retailers, such as Sports Authority and Dick’s Sporting Goods, but it also would like to sell the socks in independent boutiques and shops.

The Akkua founders approached Muntean, a professional fitness model and onetime winner of the Ms. Bikini Universe pageant contest, last year about their plans to bring the socks to America. She says she tried on the socks and was instantly hooked.

“Usually socks will roll and twist, but these will just stay on,” Muntean says. “The quality of this product is better, and I know because I’ve tried them all.” 

Marco Coffinardi, Alberto Longhi and Luigi Polacco, businessmen with an interest in sports gear, invented the socks eight years ago. Their first design was for use in a pool, so a user’s feet can stay warm and clean. “It was quite successful,” says Muntean, “so they came up with new designs.”

In fact, the company has produced a new line a year ever since its first run. It now has eight lines, including socks for Pilates, yoga, action sports, aqua aerobics and children. The company, through its Akkua Med division, also plans to refine its line of technical socks for orthopedic and neurologic rehabilitation. It’s collaborating with engineers at a college in Rome on that project.

Muntean declined to discuss specific sales figures or U.S. projections. The company does plan to hire more people locally, she says, and has also begun to promote its American website, http://www.akkuausa.com.

Muntean says the socks have also been good for some other, unforeseen uses, in addition the promoted ones. Those include boating, surfing, walking on the beach and one close to many women’s hearts: For feet protection and comfort while wearing pumps and high heels.