A couple of weeks ago, I found something waiting for me in my pigeonhole that I had been looking forward to for days, a package of socks from the luxury gentlemen’s hosiers, the London Sock Company. The socks in question have intrigued me for some time. Not only is the London Sock Company offering a superior quality product at a distinctly affordable price, but its doing things in a rather distinctive manner.
Ryan Palmer is a humble co-captain of the company’s ship, claiming the company’s ethos is simple: ‘Our focus from the outset has been to create the best quality products available, whilst making it simple to own and enjoy them’. This is indisputable: the socks in question are simply great.
I bought pairs in navy, turquoise and pink and have worn each pair several times since receiving them. They are considerably more comfortable than a number of other high-end socks I own, including some pure cashmere numbers and socks retailed by a company on Savile Row. Each presents a very vivid colour making them distinctly fun to wear, they stay up around my calves all day long without the need to be hitched-up every twenty paces and more importantly, the vivid colour and shape of the socks is retained between wears and washes. The perfectly woven ribbing of the socks is also an indicator of their quality, requiring time and precision to weave tightly and neatly. The mixing of a classic calf-length ribbed sock with a bold, distinctly modern range of colours speaks perfectly of the company’s ethos – to provide something that is classically sartorial, but which is also inspired by modern times.
If the product is inspired, so is the concept behind the business. As Ryan explains: ‘the inspiration for the London Sock Company began when we saw a picture of five stylish, elegant and rather well-to-do Victorian gentleman. Each hailed from a different corner of the British Empire, but were captured together in a unique image dated to 1883’. It seems that each of these men were wearing rather fine examples of luxurious Victorian hosiery. ‘The aim is simply to serve the true gentlemen among us; helping to achieve the style and elegance of that famous Victorian era, with a modern twist’. Evidently, innovation is an important part of the London Sock Company’s process: ‘The Victorians were famous for innovation and so the London Sock Company has one stylish foot firmly in the twenty-first century.’ This definitely shows.
The first obvious indicator of this innovation is in the production process of the socks themselves. Despite being made by a family-run artisan workshop in Portugal, using specially imported Italian machines which produce socks with the body, natural stretch and softness of a traditional garment, effort is made to ensure that the seams and structure of each sock is as meticulous and invisible both to touch and feel as is technologically possible. Their first range of socks is produced using the highest quality Scottish Lisle cotton, which takes its name from a milling process made famous in Victorian times in Scotland, whereby the chemical structure of the cotton is actively enhanced. The result is a luxurious fiber which is cleaner, more durable and which takes dye better, producing cotton yarns which are exceptionally rich in colour.
Also innovatory is the evident value placed upon ethical production by the company. Firstly, the current range of socks is being expanded through collaborations with up-and-coming young fashion designers including a collaboration with London College of Fashion, offering young talent an opportunity to work in the industry, on a project where they can be recognised and rewarded for their contribution. Secondly, the London Sock Company donates hundreds of pairs of socks per year to London’s homeless as the first phase of their ‘Pull Your Socks Up’ campaign, supporting a number of homelessness charities in the process. Again, Ryan’s explanation is simple: ‘It’s not something we really shout about, but pulling your socks up is one of the first things you do each day. Doing good things is important to us and when we pull our socks up, we’re reminded to do something each day that makes a difference, even if it’s small. People are sometimes surprised that a new, luxury clothing brand has a strong social ethos from day one, but it’s just something we wanted to do’.
Equally smart is the means by which customers can access the socks in question. In addition to their online shop, customers can also sign-up to a supremely convenient ‘Sock Club’ to have a set number of pairs delivered every month through their letterbox, ensuring that there will always be the requisite pair of superior quality socks in one’s wardrobe when needed. If that isn’t both the height of convenience and seriously smart customer service, I don’t know what is.
I had one final question for Ryan; clashing socks, yes or no? His answer – both. ‘Socks offer a subtle way of expressing your personality. If you like wearing clashing colours or even odd socks, then do it and enjoy expressing yourself. Socks are a subtle touch, but when you sit down in your business meeting or even on a date, people will notice and take note’. A valuable and much over-looked point. When one bears this in mind, the commitment of the London Sock Company to producing socks of the finest quality becomes all the more appealing for the dapper gentleman. I can attest that their socks are very satisfying to both wear and own, and well worth investing in for a sleek and sturdy finish to one’s ensemble. I highly recommend them.
Images credit: Rui Jorge