Nick Cruz


As William (The Refrigerator) Perry once said of himself, the Friedman twins were big ever since they were little.

"We've been shopping at big and tall stores our whole lives," says Dan, who is 6-9. "Wherever we bought clothes, our options were a lot more limited than most."

Particularly when it came to socks.

"They would have the T-shirts and the pants and the suits, and I was OK with that," says Mike, who is 6-11 and was a student manager/practice player for the Syracuse basketball team while in college. "But the socks … they just didn't fit our personality. That's the thing that bothered me the most. We wanted to wear cool, hip, funny, funky, urban socks. Because that's cool. That's what people like to wear. So why can't we?"

Now they can, thanks to the company they founded: TallOrder.

Tall Order Socks

It released its first line of socks for men in sizes 12-20 last year. The response was strong enough that the second line, which is scheduled for full release in May, will expand to sizes 9-11.

Aside from fashion, TallOrder also addressed a practical concern that the brothers understood well with each wearing a size 16 shoe.

"Even if they have a decent pattern, your toenail rips through them," Dan says of socks he used to buy. "They don't last very long. They're uncomfortable."

Shaq And Tall Order

With these considerations in mind, the Friedmans designed socks for big men that look good and feel good. To build momentum in the marketing, they got to the socks to athletes including Shaquille O'Neal, Paul Pierce, Dikembe Mutombo, Charles Woodson, Eddie George, Eric Dickerson, John Salley, Larry Johnson and John Starks.

Positive word-of-mouth reviews from such stars have helped the company's growth. ESPN SportsCenter anchor Neil Everett did some modeling for its new line with the smaller sizes.

Tall Order Socks

"Socks are kind of like the new tie," Dan says. "Unless you're in a very formal industry, where you have to wear a suit and tie every day, a lot more offices have become more casual, more loose on dress policy, and the way that guys wear their pant legs a little bit further up than they used to, socks have really become the new way to personalize yourself."

The Friedmans understood this fashion trend as they strategically placed a blue logo on the ankle of each sock.

"The reason we put it there is when men cross their feet it's supposed to stand out and be a conversation starter," Mike says.

And the reason for blue is connected to the company's charitable mission. A portion of its profits go to Tuesday's Children, which was founded after 9/11 to help families whose lives are affected by terrorism. Dan and Mike lost their dad, Andrew, who was in the north tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Tall Order Logo

"We made it blue because that was the clear blue sky on 9/11, and there's a subtle nod to the World Trade Center with the T," Mike says.

The cruel twist is that as boys on Long Island, Dan and Mike were known as the Twin Towers.

"We embraced that nickname, and we played a lot of basketball growing up," Dan says. "Unfortunately that nickname took on a weird meaning because we lost our dad on 9/11.

"We were shook as a family. We had a lot of people come to our aid at that time. Different organizations. Our community, our friends, our family came to support us. We always thought it would a 'tall order' to pay everyone back for everything they did. So that's why we founded TallOrder. Not just to provide the fun and fashionable side for guys with big feet … but as a way to pay back a lot of the people that helped us out."