Houstonia Events

Socks Against Obesity: An Unlikely Fundraiser

A nonprofit and designer men's clothing store team up to fight for healthy food.

By Kerry H. February 10, 2014

Click here to buy tickets.

Sartorial scribe Robin Givhan has described sock designer Vivek Nagrani as “a man who loves socks the way some folks love their pets.” He apparently sells said socks “with the gusto of a philosopher peddling the meaning of life.” It is presumably this kind of intense sock-passion that led Karen and Murry Penner (of the men’s store M Penner) to put Nagrani at the center of a fundraising event Tuesday night that will support the anti–childhood obesity organization, Recipe for Success.

“Many of the collections that we have in our store are the best in the world,” says Karen Penner, “but are not featured around a designer the way a women’s line would be.” They found an exception in Nagrani, whose socks, hosiery, pocket squares, and apparel are centered around the Indian-born designer’s playful identity. When Recipe for Success approached the Penners about partnering for an installment of their “Dress for Dinner” fundraising series—which has up until now only featured women’s fashion—it was Nagrani they thought of first.

“We have pretty much a complete selection of his offerings—we have some lounge-wear and some knitted shirts and accessories. He does a great pocket square too,” says Penner.


The socks produced to benefit Recipe for Success retail for $40 and are made of Peruvian Pima cotton.

As part of the fundraising effort, the Penners and Nagrani have together designed the sock above, which retails for $40, $20 of which will go to Recipe for Success. Tuesday’s event, “Men Dress for Dinner: Sox Love and Rock & Roll Fashion Benefiting Recipe for Success,” will include a fashion show featuring designer menswear, including, of course, a lot of socks. “We are not going to have any shoes on the runway,” laughs Penner. Guests can also expect cigars, temporary tattoo art, Bulleit Bourbon, and free parking for motorcycles. The event, which is co-sponsored by Houstonia, will honor a list of some of Houston’s most recognizable men, such as David Peck, Ceron, and Jared Lang. 

While there is no graceful writerly transition to be made from the subject of designer socks to that of chronic childhood obesity (many precious Houstonia man hours have been devoted to this effort, to no effect), rest assured: your designer sock enthusiasm will help educate miniature Houstonians about the value of vegetables. Recipe for Success is a Houston-based organization that brings kitchens and gardens to over 20 Houston-area schools, where kids learn to grow vegetables, make salads, and overcome their fear of food that does not come out of a bag.

"Kids plant the carrot, tend it, harvest it, then make carrot soup and sit down to eat it with their friends," says Recipe for Success founder Gracie Cavnar. "Along the way they also learn teamwork, sharing, etiquette, plus math, science, geography, history, reading, and writing. Before you know it, kale is their favorite vegetable and they can whip up a mean quinoa and broccoli salad without a recipe."

Cavnar founded the organization after becoming involved in an effort to remove junk vending machines from schools; it is now the largest and most comprehensive anti-childhood obesity program in the country. "I knew that because we would be fighting well funded marketing efforts to sell another message," says Cavnar, "we would have to employ the same tactics: fight marketing with marketing and make healthy food fun."

In other words: McDonald's does not require a sock-themed fundraiser to sell junk to kids. To help even things out, you can buy a ticket to Tuesday's event here.

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