Why You Should Be Paying More for Your Socks
Yes, it's worth it.
BY Katie Chang | Jun 27, 2017 | Accessories
Let's talk about socks. Because as with everything you wear, quality and price go hand in hand. But just because socks aren't always visible to those around you–I'm especially referring to the no-show trend that shows no signs of slowing–it doesn't mean you shouldn't invest in them.
"Nowadays, men are looking for quality in things you can and can't see. It's about how they feel personally," says Paul Birardi, co-founder of NYC-based menswear retailer Odin. "Besides, a well-made sock makes a world of a difference on your distressed feet." (Coincidentally, his stores sell through a lot of pairs.)
Since they're a necessity, why not consider giving the unsung heroes of your wardrobe a well-deserved upgrade? Below, experts from the luxury sock lines Falke, Pantharella, and Mr. Gray break down exactly what you should look for in your next pair–fine details that make all the difference between a standard sock and a superior one. Your hard-working feet will thank you.
For Falke, a German brand founded in 1895, fit–especially in regards to actual shoe size and overall style–is paramount. Says Paul Falke, a fourth-generation family member and current company CEO, "Sizing should be differentiated, and match your personal shoe size. We don't do 'one size fits most.' The right size means your socks will always stay up, and never bind."
As with clothes and shoes, when socks fit right, you'll reach for them over and over again. Justin Hall, a fifth-generation sock maker and CEO of the British line Pantharella, says, "They'll be the go-to socks in your sock drawer, not the ones always left in the back." (You know exactly what he's talking about.)
"You'll immediately feel the difference," says Luke Cosby, co-owner of the Canadian brand Mr. Gray, of his product. "We consider ourselves a knitwear company first, so we focus on using the highest quality Japanese yarns. We also use lots of variations in weight, materials, and patterns that are woven into the socks–versus prints."
Wearing socks made of the natural stuff is a point all fine sock makers agree on, but Falke goes as far as to source super-luxurious yarns that typically make an appearance in clothes–think cashmere, silk, Merino wool, and Pima cotton. In fact, the brand's most renowned style is a limited-edition product featuring the highly prized wool from the Peruvian vicuña. It costs over $1,200.
While quality yarns should be a given, also consider how they're treated. "Extra long staple Egyptian cotton that has been mercerised will far outperform regular combed cotton socks," explains Hall. "The mercerization also gives you superior brightness of colour, and wicks better than regular cottons–keeping your feet fresher for longer."
Here's a term you need to know: hand toe-linking. And why? Well, socks need to be stitched together, because they're comprised of two separate parts (the toe and the body). Conventional socks sport "regular ('rosso') overstitched toe seams, which can rub and irritate," explains Hall. "Our smooth 'seamless' toes make for a more comfortable fit, and better wear." Compared to automated machine linking, hand toe-linking is performed on a machine that's guided by a skilled person. The process is painstakingly slow, and involves the craftsman precisely matching up the two sock parts to ensure the seam is completely flat and smooth.
Like size, one style doesn't fit most. To that end, Falke offers a range of them, including "classic, casual, solution-oriented, and sport-specific. Regardless of style, they should always give you comfort and confidence."
And with summer right around the corner, it's time to consider the no-show, or invisible, style. The biggest problem? How easily most of them slip off. So, to ensure a lasting, secure fit, Mr. Gray's versions feature a large silicon tab and elastic in the arch, while Pantharella's and Falke's both sport a specially-designed, non-silicon heel grip. Falke also offers different styles of invisibles, "to support the outfit and type of shoe," including high cuts for sneakers, and low cuts for loafers.
Besides a good grip and the right style, make sure to stick with natural fibres. Cosby says, "I keep harping on this, but most no-show socks on the market are exclusively synthetic fabrics–which defeats the purpose, because they cause your feet to sweat."