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INTERVIEW WITH DAVE PICKARD OF LONDON SOCK COMPANY
SOCK INSPIRATIONS, INITIATIVES AND COLLABORATIONS
Photography by Rui Jorge
In the changing world of menswear, there have to be some things that have to remain in the foundations. Those basics that every man relies on, have to tick several boxes and perform functions that are not always asked of trophy pieces. As brands continue to evolve to suit the needs of the modern man, there has recently been a return to great, high quality basics. Dependable, yet luxurious items, whose understated appeal and value lie in the fact that they add an indefinable hint of polish to complete the look.
The London Sock Company has stepped neatly into this role and co-founders Ryan Palmer and Dave Pickard identified the need within the current climate to provide the type of items which take a look from okay to extraordinary. These are pieces that create stories and contexts within an outfit. The defiant flash of colour at the ankle has become the modern man's secret weapon to maintain a hint of personality in a sea of generic blandness that threatens to homogenize. We had the opportunity to sit down with Dave and find out more about their ethos, the inspirations and the important cause they support, which perhaps they should shout about.
What was your inspiration for the London Sock Company and why socks?
"Socks themselves are a subtle but significant detail that people notice; for example, when you sit down in a big meeting or client pitch, that flash of colour and style says something about you as an individual. We wanted to make it easy for every guy to enjoy that experience and ensure your socks are noticed for the right reasons. We work hard to ensure our London brand represents quality, assured style and convenience for today’s modern gent. Our inspiration for the brand actually stems from the Victorian era, after finding a book dated 1883 that was the equivalent of the GQ magazine of its day. Inside it was an incredible image of five stylish and elegant London gentlemen, wearing the finest sartorial fashion of their generation. From that moment we wanted to create a brand influenced by the style and elegance of that time, while firmly serving today’s modern gentleman. So far the response from people has been incredible. It is amazing how quickly this modern ‘sock movement’ is growing, particularly in the UK. It’s a really exciting time and all the feedback from customers has been so energizing."
Do you have a background in fashion and/or design?
"Actually no! I studied engineering, whilst Ryan studied marketing & business. However I genuinely believe if you have a passion for something you can be successful, no matter what it is. We have also been really fortunate to surround ourselves with people that have great expertise. This was the inspiration for our designer collaboration concept, which is responsible for several new designs launching this year. We will be profiling and rewarding all of our designers, who represent a mix of established designers, students from London College of Fashion, stylists and other creatives. We are really excited to see this develop and grow."
How did the collaboration with David Gandy come about why did you feel that his brand was right for you?
"It’s an absolute pleasure to work with David Gandy. He has been a subscription customer for some time and just really liked the brand, the products and entire customer experience. We spent time with him at London Collections: Men, where he turned up wearing our socks and we just really got on well. We share a similar belief about British heritage, quality and that style is about being an individual. Ultimately we just asked him if he’d be interested in working with us and he was delighted to support. ‘My Selection by David Gandy’ is his selection of his favourite 3 pairs across our collections. The set is comes packaged in a luxury gift box along with a card personally signed by David, including some style tips and his reasoning behind the selection. It’s a Limited Edition set."
Whose personal style do you admire and why?
"I think style is about being an individual and I admire anyone who is confident enough to reflect their own personality in what they wear. Personally though, I really like classic sartorial style and very few people epitomise this better than David Gandy, which is why it has been such a privilege to work with him and for him to want to support what we’re doing. With your recent experimentation with length of sock, (ie the new knee length versions) what is the next project? We started with simple, classic styles and we’ve had such an incredible year. To be working with David Gandy, have celebrities like Bradley Cooper wearing our socks and be featured in Vogue, GQ and others, it’s really exciting to consider all the possibilities! We are always exploring new concepts for our products though, and we love receiving ideas and feedback from customers. In terms of what’s next, we’re extending some of the existing ranges but are also really excited to launch our designer collaborations. We also have some very exciting new collaboration discussions going on. It’s a really exciting time for us!"
Your "Pull Your Socks Up" initiative has never been more timely, with homelessness soaring in London. Why did you choose to support this cause?
"To be honest it’s not something we really shout about, but doing good things is important to us. Pulling your socks up is one of the first things you do each day and serves as a reminder to do something that makes a difference, even if it’s small. A friend was doing some homeless charity work and the warm socks initiative just stemmed from there. We started off literally walking around with a backpack of extra warm socks every couple weeks. The reaction is actually amazing and incredibly gratifying. Recently we’ve also donated prizes to charity auctions and supported various other good causes. 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 in some way. 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."
Will you ever branch out from socks into a new area, such as undergarments or grooming?
"For now we are focussed on making quality socks. There are a lot of feet out there! We have seen incredible growth over the past 12 months with such a positive response to the brand, which has been really humbling. We are exploring some interesting collaborations that would pair nicely with the socks, but as far as extending our direct product range we have no plans right now, but never say never."