Originality, Taste, and Mustard Socks: My interview with Ryan Palmer of London Sock Co.

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By: Harrison Giza

Style means everything. The way you look dictates the feeling you give off to others around you, how you are seen through the eyes of human beings by status, stature, and taste. From Napolean to Lady Gaga, Cleopatra to Ralph Lauren, clothes have been there to obsess and drool over. Yet, society keeps evolving, and with that evolution comes newer and hipper ways of dressing. Some people consider a good flat-brim hat as enough now, never going beyond the lame accessory game.

London Sock Company is king of the accessory, so much so that their socks can make you look twice as intelligent as you thought you could be. Their products are simple, but at the heart of everything they are an elegance higher than caviar. The company was founded by David Pickard and Ryan Palmer in London’s Leadenhall Market. A coffee chat became a conversation, which turned to excitement for the idea of Victorian era-lavish with a modern twist and Scottish Lisle thread.

I talked with Ryan Palmer, a man as kind as he is business-savvy. From the stitching of his socks to getting University support, Palmer told the story straight and thoroughly. Within minutes, I was sold on the quality and originality London Sock Company has within their work.

Their socks are better because they are made by the people who created them. No one is getting morally-screwed in the process. All the company has to offer is comfort and a smart design. The man on them, with his bicycle and hat, sits at the top of the sock. This pendant is an image of stature, class, and taste that can go with whatever you want to wear. Lazy Sunday? You’ll look great. Party at her house? My socks are ready.

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If you’re still not hooked enough on gentlemen leisure, I’ll just let the creator do the talking…

HG: Where did London Sock Co. start? Who had the idea?

RP: It began with five stylish, elegant and rather well-to-do Victorian gentlemen. Each hailed from a different corner of the British Empire, but for reasons yet unknown, they were brought together in a unique image dated 1883. After being passed down along with a collection of Victorian artifacts, it sparked an intriguing journey back to a time of true elegance, style and the British gentleman. This was the key inspiration.

 In May 2013, David Pickard and I met for coffee in Leadenhall Market, London, and quickly agreed on an exciting idea; to make it easy for modern gentlemen to express themselves through stylish, colourful accessories, as Victorian gentlemen did.We sat drinking coffee in the heart of one of London’s oldest markets – famous for its Victorian design, London Sock Co. was born. The aim is simply to recreate the style and elegance of that famous era, with a modern twist.

We also agreed that given the Victorians were so incredibly forward thinking; famous for their inventions and advances, London Sock Co. needed to have one stylish foot firmly in the 21st Century. So, in 2013 London Sock Co. launched with a staple gentlemanly product of simplistic and elegant design; a luxury range of stylish, colourful socks, available to buy online and via a monthly Sock Club subscription, where members receive new socks delivered through their letter box each month.

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HG: Tell me why the Scottish Lisle thread makes the better sock.

RP: Scottish Lisle Cotton takes its name from a process made famous during Victorian times in Scotland, which improves the chemical structure of luxury cotton fiber. 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.

HG: PYSU is an idea I can get behind. How often do you do this? How can people help?

RP: To be honest 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 often surprised that a new, luxury clothing brand has a strong social ethos from the beginning, but it’s just something we wanted to do. We started off by giving warm socks to London’s homeless (literally we just walk around with a backpack of extra warm socks every couple weeks and give them away to homeless people we see). Their reaction is actually amazing and incredibly gratifying. We’ve also donated some prizes to charity auctions. We are currently exploring ideas for the next phase of the campaign and what’s great is that we’ve had people proactively contacting us to get involved, so we are already building a little community who are keen to support.

Obviously we are still a ‘for profit’ company, but the more people who discover our brand and enjoy our products, the more we can do with the campaign. People can contact us anytime on Twitter @londonsockco or via our website. We’d love to hear from you.

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HG: The London College of Fashion is behind you guys. Did any of you go there? What are the names of the designers?

RP: Actually neither of us studied design. We just shared the same ambition as many gents out there, to be more stylish in a simple and convenient way. Being new to the industry, it became clear that most fashion designers get very little recognition or reward for their work, particularly when a product they have designed does extremely well. This is obviously with exception to the very established designers that have their own brand. So we devised our designer collaboration model to work with talented independent designers. We will profile the designers on our website, as well as giving them royalties on the products they design that we sell. London College of Fashion was really excited to support us because of the experience their design students will get. It’s fantastic for their personal portfolio and designer profiles, as well as an opportunity to continue to make money as the brand grows. We are extremely excited about the first line of new designs, which we will be releasing throughout the year as they are completed. Follow us on twitter or Facebook for updates.

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HG: Why should a person go out of their way to own your product?

RP: Our focus from the outset has simply been to create the best quality products available, whilst making it simple to own and enjoy them. We invest so much time on product design, development and testing. Ultimately we believe that if we could create a sock that is better quality, more comfortable and more colourful and stylish than others out there, people would want to buy it – not just once, but over and over again. Not only that but people would be more likely to recommend us, or buy a gift for a friend or family member.

Thankfully our hard work seems to be paying off and we’re seeing incredible growth. It has also been so rewarding to receive so many of our customers comments, validating what we’re doing. It gives us the motivation to keep going and improving.

We also created our Sock Club subscription so that our product can come conveniently to our community of Sock Club members, rather than the other way around. This is currently only available in the UK, but there has been lots of demand internationally so we are looking at expanding this outside of the UK soon. If anyone reading is keen to be the first to know when this is available, please drop us a message via our website.

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HG: To me, London Sock is great at making simplicity look luxurious. Mustard, Burgundy, and even the Red have this vintage pop that accentuates their design. How do you know when you’ve got a sock right? What makes you stop and put it on the market?

RP: Simplicity was really one of our key principles for the core collection, which is what is available now. This comes back to wanting to make it easy for gents to express themselves through ranges of colour, but not be overawed by complex patterns. We also have a clear vision of the styles and colours we want to achieve. The current collection is a range of vibrant and luxurious products that were they alive today, our Victorian gentlemen would have most definitely have enjoyed. Our future styles and patterns will all follow this same ethos.

 Once we’re happy with the luxurious look of the product, we perform a significant amount of testing to make sure it’s right. Then we work with customers, potential customers, celebrity stylist Joe Ottaway and even our best dressed Sock Club member, British super model and fashion icon David Gandy, in order to get as much feedback and input as possible before we launch a product. Only once it looks right, feels right and gets the right feedback, do we launch anything. We believe that fundamentally you are only as good as your products, so getting this right is important.

Overall we take huge pride in what we are doing, and are extremely excited about launching the next range of designs later this year!

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All hail the glorious Mustard.

 For more on London Sock CO. CLICK HERE: https://www.londonsockcompany.com/

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