“Why do people need to keep on buying so many socks? Given the technological capabilities available, the creation of socks that do not wear out would not seem to be beyond our collective productive capacities. Indeed, […] they already exist, but the space to make this choice has not been opened up. They are not made readily available because it is not profitable to do so.”
– says Dr. Damon Taylor , who is a Senior Lecturer in Design at the University of Brighton, UK. His paper ‘Spray-On Socks: Ethics, Agency, and the Design of Product-Service Systems’ (in : DesignIssues, Summer 2013, Vol. 29, No. 3, Pages 52-63.) not only looks at the possibilities which might be offered by spray-on-socks, but also socks made of Kevlar™ (“hard wearing, yet warm and yielding”).
“To design a system in which people spray on their socks in the morning is to propose that such a scenario offers an acceptable way to live. By becoming more than the shaper of an individual material artifact and envisioning and constructing systems of provision, the designer necessarily takes on a more explicitly ethical role. Such a position operates at the level of problem setting, of identifying the product and the telos—or final cause—of the process, of establishing the ‘why’ of the system. Such justifications will then depend upon certain values that come to act protologically in the action of the system’s operation.”
Note: Although Spray-on-Socks might currently remain, for many, a purely conceptual thought-experiment, a close analogue, Spray-on-Stockings, have been commercially available for some time.