Hey Sid!

Socks Refresher

Hey Sid!

You ask, Sid answers

Submit a question at heysid@sidmashburn.com

"Hey Sid, can we talk socks… again? I was in the store recently and heard a couple of the guys mention your new socks. They look the same to me. Enlighten us!" — Jake

Hey Jake. It's been almost five years since we tackled the sock question here. (♫Five years… what a surprise…♫)

A closeup of Sid's recent office sock/pant/shoe combo. He's wearing cognac suede bluchers, navy merino socks, and a pair of lovat green dress trousers
navy OTC socks + suede bluchers + lovat high-twist trousers

 

And I have to tell you… you can go back and take a look, but my stance is kind of the same as it was back then:

I still love an over-the-calf sock with a rib.

I still love a primarily wool sock. 

And my favorite shade of anything, socks included, is still what the Italians (and the marketing guys at Ferrari in the 70s) call blu scuro. Functionally navy. This is my equivalent of black. It's just a little softer and richer to me. If I could change the ink cartridges in our office to print everything in a super-dark navy… how cool would that be.

Anyway. Enough about blue. I want to talk about another thing I'm almost as fired up about, which is our new socks. These kind of quietly hit the floor right around Christmas, and you are exactly right that they look basically the same as our previous ones… which is intentional. Don't get me wrong; the old socks were good. But there was a little torquing sometimes when you went to put them on, and they didn't hold up for as long as I wanted them to. So we thought we could make them better. And our old maker in Italy was great… but not willing to go there with us, so to speak.

So we found this new guy. And he is a sock fanatic. A freak. All he does is socks.

When we pulled up to his factory in Portugal, the first thing we noticed was that all of the cars in the parking lot out front were parked nose-out. That's the rule. So you can be ready to go. Inside, it is pristine, with a wall of slide-out cabinets probably 25 feet deep that store their sample archives. All socks, all the way back. There's a television screen that displays the temperature, humidity level, and other conditions in the factory, which are all geothermally regulated. It's like Minority Report in there. They use gold-standard “Busi Giovanni” circular knitting machines, a lot of their water is pulled from the air with dehumidifiers, and there are several robots on staff. You will not be surprised to learn that every single sock is QC-ed… quality-controlled. Like I said, this man is committed to his craft.  

So what makes them better? (Other than being manufactured by fanatics and robots.) First off, the yarn, which is sourced from one of Italy's most renowned spinning mills founded back in the 19th century. The 60s 2-ply construction (two 60s yarns twisted together) adds strength and prevents the leg from that twisting I mentioned earlier. Single-yarn construction is less durable and more susceptible to torque. 2/60 is a major upgrade over our previous extra-fine merino socks (which were 1/34) and we think it's the perfect weight for socks: not too fine but not too thick. 

Secondly, the needle count (or the number of needles inside the Busi Giovanni,) which informs the number of stitches used around the leg of each sock. Our socks are 200-needle, which is considered the gold standard in dress sock manufacturing. Those 200 needles are super thin, which creates a fine, dense knit that's both durable and comfortable with a smooth surface that feels great against your foot. You've got to strike the right balance here — a lower needle count will yield a coarser, more open-feeling sock, while a higher needle count can make a sock too fine (and therefore not as durable in the long run.) This dense construction will hold up well to washing and wearing, and the small bit of nylon in the content helps further strengthen it and boosts its recovery. 

What else? The toe is seamless (for the… sensorily sensitive…) and each sock is preshrunk to maintain the size and shape after washing. And yeah, as we've said before, merino wool is excellent for regulating temperature, so you can wear these in almost any climate, at almost any time of year. Anytime and anyplace you'd wear socks at all, that is.

 

close-up of a big pile of our sock assortment, there's olive, navy, deep red, a bright orange, a pale gray, lavender — all packaged in SM green paper
Rainbow Connection (of socks)

 

It took us a really long time to develop, but we think they're really fantastic… which is why you were hearing about them in the shop (and why we hustled so hard to get them on the floor.) I even asked for a set of 7 for Christmas. I love a boxed set. Mine were all navy, but we make a lot of different colors for guys who like a little flash. The little dot is nice, and I've also got brown and olive for days when I'm feeling a little earthier. I saw Susan (who works in the Ann store here in Atlanta) was wearing colorful ones recently, and she looked pretty cool. (Orange sold out, but you can still grab the yellow.) So yeah, just because I'm majority-navy doesn't mean you have to be.

That's probably enough tech talk for you, especially from a guy who spends a good portion of his time sockless. That's how you know these are good. In all seriousness, thank you for noticing the new socks, and thank you for asking about the new socks. I hope this was enlightening enough for you.

Sock it to me!

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