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PAUSE Interview: London Sock Company

By October 13, 2014Interviews

London Sock Company was founded by Ryan Palmer and Dave Pickard – two young professionals in London with a vision to make quality, stylish socks more accessible for today’s modern gentlemen.

Tell us how you started up the brand and the story behind yourselves?

Two major things happened that led us to launch www.LondonSockCompany.com.

The first part of our journey stems simply from being disappointed with the quality of socks available out there. Many people we talked to shared similar frustrations, that even from expensive brands, colours faded or they developed holes, far too quickly.

What’s more, socks are the last item you want to think about buying, yet a product we all need and are increasingly enjoying styling and expressing personality with.

Then the real inspiration to launch the brand came after we found an incredible image, dating back to 1883. It was inside a book that was the Victorian Era’s equivalent of GQ or Vogue magazine.
The particular image contained five incredibly stylish and elegant British gentlemen, each sporting a different style of their day and clearly influenced by the different corners of the empire they had visited.

It was a fantastic glimpse back in time, to an era of real class and sophistication, where the true British gentleman was born. We were instantly inspired to find a simple way to offer today’s gentleman the same sophisticated style, with a convenient modern twist.

IMG_0279What makes your socks unique to high-street socks?

The high street brands understandably don’t focus on socks, as it’s not their core product. Whereas socks are all we do, so we can afford to work exclusively with the highest quality materials and skills available. We put our heart and soul into developing our first ‘Simply Sartorial’ range, which epitomises the classic British gentleman’s style, across a range of both traditional and vibrant and fun colours.

The comfort and fit are things we are especially proud of. So many of our customers have gone out of their way to contact us and tell us how much they love wearing our socks, which is extremely rewarding.

It gives us even more enthusiasm to develop our future ranges and styles, something we’re really excited about. Our subscription service also offers a more convenient way for our customers to ensure they can always have a quality, stylish pair of socks for all occasions.

IMG_0280You pride yourself on the quality of your socks, how are they made? Talk us through the process…

Our Simply Sartorial range are knitted by a highly skilled family sock maker in Portugal, who have worked in the textile industry for over 100yrs. The quality of workmanship was extremely important to us and we looked long and hard before selecting a specialist knit producer who could meet the level of quality we were looking for.

The quality of material was also extremely important to us and for this first collection we decided on Scottish Lisle Cotton. Scottish Lisle takes its name from a process made famous during Victorian times in Scotland, which improves the chemical structure of luxury cotton fibre. It allows for production of a luxury cotton that is cleaner, more durable and visually much more vibrant in colour. It’s not as commonly used to knit socks due to higher costs, but with the right design and knitting skills, the results are incredible.

We also have a new Made in England collection launching by the end of October with an equally skilled producer who has been making quality socks for 120 years. This will be very different in style from the Simply Sartorial range and we’re excited to offer something different to our customers for Christmas.

IMG_0281When you were designing the socks, what elements were important for you?

First and foremost providing stylish products for our customers. We wanted to keep it simple for our first collection, and offer men an easy way to inject style to whatever they were wearing. We spent a lot of time getting input from top stylists including Joe Ottaway and we felt a classic rib style across traditional and more vibrant colours was an ideal starting point reminiscing the old traditional dapper gentry.

Going forward, we have a strong Designer Collaboration model which we are extremely excited about, working with talented designers who get recognition and royalties for their input. We are just in the process of completing a collaboration with London College of Fashion as part of this, with the designs coming out in the New Year.

Since launch, how has the brand been received?

The response to the brand has been incredible. Men in general are visibly taking more pride in their appearance and we seem to be entering a period that is all about the modern gent. First and foremost we’ve had a lot of fantastic feedback from customers and a lot of repeat purchasers, which is always a good sign! The brand and products are also resonating extremely well with stylists who are using our socks to style on numerous celebs including Bradley Cooper & Colin Firth, who sported them in a recent GQ edition. Being involved with London Collections: Men was also a great privilege and we were humbled by how positive the brand was received during the event, leading to a number of additional stockists and feature articles including in Forbes. All in all, I don’t think we could have wished for a better response to the brand. We seem to be getting a lot of really positive momentum and it’s genuinely a really exciting time for both the brand and us individually.

Another thing that sets you apart is that you offer a subscription service. Why do you feel that men need something like this?

Our Sock Club subscription service is all about convenience for today’s busy gent. We wanted to make the lives of our customers easier and what is easier than not having to think about shopping? Our socks simply arrive through our members letterboxes each month. All of our members choose what styles they like, or can leave that to us through our ‘Surprise Me’ option. There is also no minimum term and you can pause or cancel any time.

Our subscriptions have also been extremely popular as a gift, with many of the gift recipients deciding to carry this on after their gift period has expired. The editor of a luxury fashion magazine, who recently joined our list of members, compared it to his mobile phone – in that he never realised how much he wanted one until he had it!

Some people could say that socks aren’t too important to an outfit, what would say in response?

GQ magazine once published an article stating “If you can tell a man’s income by his shoes, you can tell his style by his socks”.

In our opinion socks are a simple yet important detail that people really notice and pay attention to. What better way to express your personality in a professional and stylish way? The growing trend of men enjoying stylish and colourful socks is further validation that they’re an ever more important style item that says a lot about you.

We see that David Gandy is a big admirer of London Sock Co., wearing your socks at LCM, could you see a collaboration between the two of you happening in the near future?

David’s been a customer for some time and we were so grateful when he contacted us to tell us how much he loved the brand, the socks and the subscription service. To receive that sort of feedback and public support from easily the most stylish gent on the planet is amazing. We’ve now met him a number of times and it would be a privilege to do a collaboration. Definitely watch this space…

IMG_0282Could you tell us your favourite colour from the current range?

We get asked this all the time and always have different answers! You can do so much with a range of different colours, literally styling with anything. At the moment it’s probably the Orange and Red shades for autumn, but ask us again next week and expect a different answer!

What’s next for London Sock Co.?

We have some exciting collaborations that we are currently working on, as well as new styles launching from the end of October in time for Christmas. Generally we’re just excited to keep making quality, stylish socks for our growing community of customers.

Where can people find you?

People can find us at www.londonsockcompany.com, where you can also be directed to our current stockists in the UK and Europe.

Interviewer: Jordan Bunker
Images: Rui Jorge