Michael Llorente, of the LA Red Army, gives us our initiation into the hardcore Ross Sock Gang culture.
Ross Dress for Less is an off-price department store chain that sells discounted clothing, shoes, accessories and home decor. It’s the type of store where you find irregular merchandise, well-known designer items that flopped, and the occasional diamond in the rough. This is a story of how one trip to Ross created a whole new Manchester United culture.
Last year I found myself at my local Ross store looking for some socks when a familiar logo caught my attention. My eyes widened as I saw a pack of Manchester United socks wedged between a pair of Stussy reggae socks and Polo dress socks. For starters, I was surprised to seeing anything related to football in the store since Ross is as mainstream as they come. The package seemed out of place, like seeing the Mona Lisa holding a hot dog. I immediately grabbed the package and looked at the price tag. It was good size pack for a really low price. I walked out with two packs.
It turned out that I wasn’t alone. Other members of our group, the Manchester United Fans of Los Angeles (also know as MULA or the LA Red Army) started posting pictures of Manchester United socks on our Facebook group page. It seemed like all the cool kids had these socks. More important, these socks were ours. They weren’t Nike socks, they couldn’t be ordered on a web site nor picked up at the local football store. You HAD to walk into a Ross and do a little searching. Whether ankle length or crew, wearing these socks became a badge of honor.
Members begin posting pictures of recent finds at their local Ross stores, which evolved into posting pictures of themselves with Ross socks all about town. In their homes. On road trips. In the board room. On the red carpet. They were frequently followed by hilarious hashtags on Facebook and Instagram, like #therosslife or #sockgameonpoint. One day, someone in our group finally nailed it with the right hashtag #rosssockgang. This cheeky nod to Los Angeles gang culture resonated with most everyone in the group. BAM! The Ross Sock Gang was born.
Of course, MULA is not just a social media group. We are a supporters group and we come together to cheer on United at our home pub, The Kings Head II in Studio City, CA. Naturally the United socks are proudly worn at matches. Some of our more superstitious supporters wear the same socks to matches following a quality performance or positive result. At the pub, Sock Gang members are always checking others to ensure they are still “repping” those socks. Again, another cheeky nod to LA’s gang culture.
As the Manchester United Fans of Los Angeles continues to grow in numbers, I am often asked by some of our newer members, “Where did you get those socks?”
I reply simply, “Ross, man.” I reply simply, “Ross, man.”