HINSDALE – For the right invention to come along, you need the right problem – or the wrong smell.
Bothers Justin and Christian Arquilla are the creative minds behind Gekks Sockless Liners, an ultra-thin “sock” that is inserted into a loafer or slip-on shoe and remains in place with an adhesive gel until the liner is washed or swapped into another shoe.
Hinsdale Central High School graduates in 2001 and 2003, respectively, Justin and Christian explain that the idea for Gekks arose at the expense of several Sperry’s, Vans and multiple pairs of fine loafers.
“If you’re an entrepreneur like Christian and I, you kind of always have these thoughts in your head like this or that is a cool idea,” Justin Arquilla said. “But you’re never acting on all of them, and this was one that it just kind of felt like a problem that needed to be solved.”
Gekks allow people to sport a sockless look without discomfort and sweaty, foul-smelling feet that arise when not wearing socks, according to the Arquillas.
While the liners have been in development for a year and a half, Justin first realized their potential value when he moved from Los Angeles to New York several years prior.
He could not stand going sockless during the humid New York summers, yet low-cut or no-show socks didn’t fit his feet correctly and were easy to misplace.
“I was just like, I’m tired of searching for them. I wish they were just in my shoe,” he said.
In addition to their day jobs, Justin and Christian – a Chicago resident – spent the following year tirelessly product testing – acquiring materials, adjusting the liner for different shoe sizes and working with varying adhesives.
“I was working 80 hours a week plus at [a private equity] job and then doing this on the side at night and on the weekends,” Christian said. “Eventually I had enough confidence to say we really have to make a go at this and get it off the ground.”
The brothers currently have patents on the liner and the adhesive, as well as the manufacturing of the product.
Incorporating the same technology used by NASA and the U.S. Special Forces, the Gekks antimicrobial silver yarns eliminate odor-causing bacteria and resist bacteria, according to Justin and Christian.
“The foot odor that you get if you go sockless – without anything to treat it – literally is bacteria eating the sweat, eating the dirt in your shoe and gassing it out,” Justin said. “That’s why all that gas gets clumped in your shoe and when you take your shoe off, you get the terrible odor.”
To test the yarns, the brothers wore a prototype for a month straight during humid weather conditions.
“They do not smell,” Christian said. “There’s some moisture on them, obviously after wearing them all day, but they still don’t smell after three weeks.”
The brothers are now looking to raise $75,000 by April 15 with a Kickstarter campaign. If they reach their goal, the money would go toward producing the first large batch of Gekks.
As of Friday morning, the brothers have raised more than $65,000 on Kickstarter.
Kickstarter does not solicit donations, instead allowing interested customers to “pre-order” the product so sellers can fund the first batch of inventory.
If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, the brothers plan to manufacture additional inventory, ship Gekks to backers and continue online sales.
The duo eventually hopes to tap wholesale and department store markets
“It’s a great product, and we’ve had overwhelming positive impact the weeks leading up to the launch and over the past few weeks,” Christian said.