What happens when two entrepreneurial Scots form an unbreakable bond and friendship after-hours in the pub? The only logical thing possible of course; they start their own sock company. Dave Pickard and Ryan Palmer first met whilst working for the IT organisation Accenture in London, and it was clear from the start that they had much in common. One could say they were kindred spirits, made from the same bottle, gifted with an innovative drive and zest for life.
They believed that there was something brighter for them beyond the horizon. It was just a case of discovering what that was. So, after five years of working and socialising together in the corporate world, and evenings spent putting the world to rights, they decided it was time. Time to do what they had been speaking about doing for so long, and come together to build something that meant more to them than IT events and corporate jargon.
They wanted to create a company with London at its heart. It was just trying to figure out what that should be and what it would look like. They were keenly aware from the start that they wanted to provide a service or commodity of value, that people needed every day. They were initially inspired by retail alternatives that were just starting to appear – like Dollar Shave Club in California which delivers razors and grooming products straight to consumers by mail. For them, they thought these online subscription services were the future and a great way for businesses to connect with customers and save them valuable time.
As is often the case in life, the answer to all questions had been in front of them the whole time – or in this instance, their feet – socks. It was a product that people wear every day, they are easy to post, and more and more men were beginning to see them as a fashion accessory, rather than a dull necessity. They saw a huge opportunity to add flair and personality to men’s outfits with something as simple and stylish as quality socks.
It wasn’t until they came across a vintage Victorian-era book with artistic sketches and images of dapper British gentlemen, that their imaginations were truly fed and fired. It was at this moment they began to envisage the brand. They would produce socks for the modern man, inspired by the elegance and panache of the past. From that day, London Sock Company was born.
It says a great deal about Dave and Ryan that they were prepared to walk away from a secure career in search of something new. It’s not just a simple case of fortune favours the bold though. You need to mix that with a big bit of bloody hard work, drive, and innovation, not to mention good old Scottish tenacity. Put all of that together and you have yourself a design for success.
This year marks ten years since Dave and Ryan launched London Sock Company. In that time they have gone from hand-wrapping a few sock orders per day in their living room to running an international brand delivering to over 100 countries worldwide and seeing the likes of David Gandy, Chris Evans, Ryan Reynolds and the sartorially elegant Stanley Tucci wearing their products. it would be fair to say it’s been quite the journey.
The pair, have created a prestigious brand that has revolutionised the world of men’s socks with its exceptional quality, timeless designs, and dedication to style. They have also successfully established a reputation for their craftsmanship, attention to detail, and commitment to providing gentlemen with the perfect finishing touch for their outfits. Their products embody the brand’s ethos of sophistication, elegance, and sartorial excellence. Meticulously crafted using the finest materials, including premium Scottish Lisle cotton and luxurious merino wool, these socks offer unparalleled comfort and durability. From the moment they’re slipped on, it’s clear that every aspect of their creation has been carefully considered to ensure a luxurious feel.
What truly sets London Sock Company apart is its dedication to style and design. The brand creates collections that effortlessly blend classic aesthetics with contemporary flair. From timeless patterns like stripes and polka dots to bold colours and statement motifs, their range of socks caters to every taste and occasion. Whether it’s a formal event or a casual outing, London Sock Company offers the perfect pair to complete any ensemble.
Beyond the exceptional craftsmanship and stylish designs, London Sock Company takes pride in providing a luxurious experience from start to finish. Their socks are beautifully packaged, making them an ideal gift for any discerning gentleman. The brand’s commitment to customer satisfaction is evident through its exceptional customer service, ensuring that every interaction leaves a lasting impression.
London Sock Company is not just a brand but a symbol of sophistication and refined style. With its dedication to quality, timeless designs, and impeccable attention to detail, it has established itself as a leader in the world of men’s socks. Whether you’re a trendsetter or a traditionalist, this brand is the perfect choice for those who appreciate the finer things in life and seek to make a statement from the ground up.
The Atlantic Dispatch had the pleasure to sit down with co-founders Dave Pickard and Ryan Palmer to find out more about the journey so far, what their biggest achievements have been and what the rest of the year has in store for them. So put your socks up and enjoy.
How did the journey to establishing London Sock Company begin?
Ryan: London Sock Company was born in 2013. We loved the simplicity and enormity of the opportunity in this category. Here is an item that men all around us wear every single day, but give very little thought to. Business fashion was changing, and we saw socks as the perfect item to elevate to a fashion accessory; to express style and personality. We also love the brand opportunity, to own that part at the beginning of everyone’s day – when they pull up their chosen socks – and inspire them to Walk Brighter. Pulling on a pair of great socks in the morning has the power to transform not just your style, but your state of mind. We wanted to be the ones to really champion this daily moment.
Dave: In the early days we were storing and packing sock orders from Ryan’s living room and posting from his local post office.. We even managed to get British model and entrepreneur David Gandy to become an early investor. Since then we’ve shipped socks to over 100 countries and spotted our socks on the likes of The Rock, Ryan Reynolds, Hugh Jackman, Chris Evans and Stanley Tucci.
What is it that makes London Sock Company so unique and stand out from the competiition?
Dave: I think the secret to LSC’s magic lies in our tagline: Walk Brighter. Our socks are about quality and style, of which colours of course play a key part, but they are also about confidence. We spend a lot of time picking tones and patterns that will be timeless classics, but also add the perfect pop to your outfit, whether that is in the boardroom or down the pub. True style is all about the details. When you pull on something from London Sock Company you look great but you also feel great. It is a whole experience from the moment you open our signature gift boxes to when you step out of the door and get your first compliment.
How does your sock subscription model work?
Ryan: Our Sock Club subscription is one of the first things we introduced when we started the brand. Sock style on auto-pilot if you will. Customers in the UK can sign up and will receive new socks, straight to their door, monthly. You can choose the pairs you want from our ‘sock menu’ or you can leave the choice to our sock stylists. For those who don’t have time or inclination for a regular shopping trip but love that new socks feeling, it is a no-brainer. It’s also become hugely popular as a gift, which we offer for 3, 6 or 12 months and which is prepaid by the gift buyer.
How much work goes into ensuring the highest quality of product and maintaining the core values of the brand?
Ryan: For us quality is essential in every product we make. Socks undergo more friction, more wear and tear, and more washing than almost any other clothing item. To ensure that our socks can stand the steps of time, we work with the best factories who are as passionate as us about quality and we only use the finest materials, machinery and craftsmanship available.
Dave: Socks shouldn’t be a throw-away item. They should last and look good for a long time. Our attention to the ‘craft’ means that our socks look and feel amazing to wear, but they are also significantly more durable than your average sock. Something that is really important to us – tonnes of clothes are dumped into landfills every year across the globe. If items are well-made, timeless and designed to last, they won’t need to be discarded and replaced as often. We’re so confident in our quality we actually offer a 12 month Sock-Sure guarantee.
What have been some of the biggest achievements and challenges for London Sock Company?
Ryan: There have been so many highs over the last decade. Welcoming David Gandy on board as an investor was definitely a high. He’s become a great friend and mentor. Seeing celebrities in our socks on the covers of magazines and on red carpets never gets old either. We are really fortunate to have a loyal following of famous faces who proudly wear their LSCs regularly whether it’s Gareth Southgate at the World Cup or Ryan Reynolds on a press tour. But it’s also the feedback we receive from our customers too, sharing stories of increased confidence, lucky socks and reactions they’ve received when gifting. There have obviously been challenges over the years too. But we try to see them as opportunities to adapt and improve. Being a small brand with a tight-knit, small team means we can be really agile and pivot when we need to. COVID is obviously a prime example of this.
Tell us a bit more about your work with the London-based charity Suited & Booted?
Ryan: Doing good and giving back has been central to us at London Sock Company since day one. In the early days Dave and I would walk around London and hand out warm socks to people sleeping rough on the street.
Dave: Over the years we’ve worked closely with homeless charity Crisis UK to provide their guests with warm socks through our Share a Pair initiative and then last year we started working with Suited & Booted who are this brilliant grassroots organisation in London. Their aim is something that is really close to our hearts at LSC: inspiring self-belief through style. Their small team of volunteers help vulnerable, unemployed men confidently head to job interviews by kitting them out top-to-toe in smart new clothes, including LSC socks.
Ryan: The work they do is really inspiring. They also offer advice, interview training and support. Having met some of their former clients and listening to their stories, it is really powerful to hear how much of an impact being given that ‘Savile Row’ experience and fitted with a beautiful new outfit ready for interviews made on them. We are really proud to be a partner.
What are some of the biggest trends this year? And what is new for this spring and summer?
Dave: We tend to avoid following the ever-changing fashion trends too much. But as a brand that is so closely connected to colour and the power of colour, it is always interesting to see which colours of our socks make their way into the top sellers each year. Our Saffron and Pink Friday shades from our flagship Simply Sartorial collection are always in the bestsellers. They are the perfect pop of personality and class really. Unsurprisingly, Royal Navy is almost always there too, but this year our newest blue, French Blue is really popular. A slightly less formal, more contemporary dark blue.
Ryan: Interestingly, white socks have also really had a renaissance in the last year or two. Not just in our sports socks but also in dress socks like our Simply Sartorials in Cream. Think more classy Paul Newman vibes rather than scruffy PE socks.
Dave: In terms of this spring and summer we have added some new trainer socks to our offering – classic, essential cotton ones. Our colourful Simply Trainer trainer socks are really popular this season. They are a stylish way to add a dash of colour at the ankle when you’re wearing shorts and trainers. They look especially great with crisp white leather sneakers.
Why do you think people are now more style conscious when it comes to choosing their socks?
Ryan: Men typically have had very limited options for expressing personality and style when dressing. When it came to socks, there were cheesy novelty socks or generic multipacks grabbed from near the checkout. But socks like ours are a really simple way to add some polish to an outfit. They can take a suit to the next level without being overpowering. You can make a statement with your jeans without being garish. With great socks, you’ll get noticed for the right reasons. As more and more men are caring about their style, this has naturally increased their focus on this important detail.
What does the rest of the year have in store for London Sock Company?
Dave: We’ve just closed a really successful crowdfunding campaign. It was amazing to see how many existing LSC customers and fans wanted to be part of our journey and invest in us. Testament to what we’ve built and our exciting future potential. We’ve also just signed a partnership with the PCA (Professional Cricketers Association), which will be a really interesting new avenue of possibilities. We have our sights set on the US and improving our reach across the pond too, which is our fastest growing market. Plus, there will be more new colours and designs coming later this year too of course. Just great socks and stories all round, really. Watch this space!
Thank you very much to the gentlemen that are Dave Pickard and Ryan Palmer for their time.