Now That’s A Tall Order
I had the pleasure to interview Dan and Mike Friedman, aka the Twin Towers and co-founders of Tall Order socks. Their story begins with sorrow after losing their dad to the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center, but with sadness, comes fortitude and the will to live with gratitude. These two men are now paying it forward and giving back through their lifestyle brand.
OR: Tell us the history and how Tall Order came to be?
TO: Standing tall at 6’11” & 6’9”, we were always referred to as the “Twin Towers” growing up. With towering heights came large feet, and we often had trouble finding quality, stylish socks that fit comfortably. We knew we needed to take the problems into our own hands (er, feet?) and create a solution. We also knew we weren’t alone. About 24 million men in America stand 6 feet or taller, therefore likely needing better-fitting socks than those available to the average man.
However, a more somber motivation for starting the business came 15 years before work started. On September 11, 2001, our “Twin Towers” nicknames took on tragic irony when we lost our beloved father, Andrew, in the attacks on the World Trade Center. Only 11 years old at the time, our mother, Lisa, took us to New York City to not only search for our father, but also hand out essentials to first responders – one of these essentials were pairs of clean socks.
Today, we make socks for ALL men, not just tall men. To us, the definition of a ‘tall order” is to do the right thing even when it is difficult, hence our name. Our socks come in sizes 9-11, 12-15 and 16-20 and can stretch up to 22” for the men with wider calves.
In the aftermath of 9/11, we received overwhelming support from family, friends and a number of charitable organizations. As we moved past 9/11 and the death of our father, we always knew it would be a “Tall Order” to pay back those that assisted us, as well as pay it forward to help others going through a similar life-altering event.
OR: Are you guys best friends?
TO: We were always close but became inseparable after 9/11. We knew that through our tragedy, we could help others in similar situations. Although we went to separate colleges and got jobs in corporate America after graduation, we always knew we would do something meaningful together.
OR: Tell us about your mom and her work ethic?
TO: Our mom refers to herself as the “luckiest unlucky person” she knows. Having beaten cancer at age 23 and becoming a widow at age 39, she is the definition of resilient. She NEVER gives up, so it is wonderful to have her at the helm of our company. She has learned, the hard way, that every day is a gift so we need to make sure we make every day count. We work hard. We play hard. We help others. She knows that “no man is an island” and it is our mission and responsibility to make sure that we help others going through traumatic difficulties, as others supported us.
OR: How do you come up with the designs for the socks?
TO: We use our dad’s friends as inspiration for our designs. They are still some of our best friends so we take their personality traits, hobbies, professions, etc., and work with professional designers. Then we take our samples to the streets and ask opinions.
OR: Tell us about your logo and why one is embroidered on every ankle of your socks.
TO: Our logo is a ‘T’ and an ‘O’ with a subtle nod to the World Trade Center. The ‘T’ is located above the ‘O’, symbolizing us rising above tragedy. It is embroidered on all 4 ankles of the socks so as a man lifts his legs or crosses his feet, they are noticeable. They are always blue, the color of the sky on 9/11, regardless of the color of the sock. This is done intentionally as we want them to be a conversation starter. We also want our customers to be reminded that it is their tall order to pay it forward today – buy someone a cup of coffee or pay someone’s toll behind you. We are all in this together. We need to help one another each and every day.
OR: Tell us about your passion for sports?
TO: Our passion comes from our dad. He was our coach for soccer, football, baseball, basketball and golf. We played them all with him. He was also a huge NY Giants, NY Knicks, NY Yankees and college basketball fan. We used to watch games with him daily and go to as many live events as possible.
We are now among the tallest twins in the world. We both played HS basketball and Mike was a practice player/student manager at Syracuse University while I worked for the University of Michigan Sports Information Director.
OR: Do you see yourself expanding into other areas of men’s fashions, i.e. underwear, etc.?
TO: We hope to be the fashion brand of choice for men with difficult fit challenges. You can be a size 9 shoe but have a very wide foot or a size 13 with skinny legs. Our socks are engineered to fulfill this void in the marketplace. The plan is to take this model into lounge wear, underwear and lifestyle clothing.
OR: What charities are you connected with and how did you select them?
TO: In an effort to show our appreciation of our community, not only is each Tall Order sock named and designed after a close friend of our dad, but also ten percent of Tall Order’s earnings is donated to Tuesday’s Children, a non-profit created in the aftermath of 9/11.
Tuesday’s Children provides a lifetime of healing for those who have been forever changed by terrorism and traumatic loss.
Through a time-tested, long-term approach, Tuesday’s Children programming serves and supports U.S. military families of the fallen; builds resilience and common bonds in communities worldwide recovering from tragedies while keeping the promise to support all those impacted by 9/11.
Since 2001, they have served over 27,000 individuals through consistent and successful evidence-based programs—trauma and grief support, youth mentoring, career resources, community and family engagement events and volunteerism opportunities. Their programs strengthen resilience, foster post-traumatic growth and build common bonds.
In addition to Tuesday’s Children, we partner with many other non-profits including The Junior League, Jewish Federation of North America, The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, The American Kidney Fund and The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, to name a few. For every sock sold with an associated code, we donate a portion of the sale back to the charity. Most organizations are chosen based on how their programs support people in need or help develop cures for chronic and fatal illnesses. Our mom, Lisa Friedman Clark, is a 33-year ovarian cancer survivor. She was 23 when she was diagnosed and went through many rounds of chemotherapy. Our dad stood by her side and they were engaged shortly after she finished her treatments. At an early age she learned how we all need to help one another through life’s most difficult times. Therefore, we make sure that helping others is at the root of every decision we make.
OR: It is so great that you donate the Tall Order socks to many gift bags. What is the best thing to come out of your gift bag generosity?
TO: We donate our socks to various organizations for SWAG. Sometimes it is for marketing purposes and we want to get the socks in the hands of potential clients that could help us spread the word about Tall Order. For example, we recently partnered with the National Basketball Retired Players Association (NBRPA). Let’s face it, many of their members have big feet and wide calves so buying fashionable socks is difficult. Since partnering, we now have a contingent of players donning Tall Order socks!
Our main goal is to have the charities benefit because the more their constituents buy, the more money we can donate back.
OR: If you can have anybody wear your socks, who would that be?
TO: We are very resourceful. We have gotten the socks into the hands of many people. That said, there are always more. The Rock, Dwane Johnson, would be an obvious choice. We’d also like to get them on Andy Cohen and be guest bartenders on “Watch What Happens Live.”
OR: Thank you for sharing your personal story and professional journey with us. Keep up all the great things you’re doing.
TO: It is our pleasure and thank you for sharing our story with your community.
Please visit www.tallorder.com and you too, can help make a difference in somebody’s life when making a purchase and hey, who doesn’t need socks! And feel free to follow on social media: