When considering the various aspects of one’s wardrobe, rarely does the humble sock stand out as a sartorial beacon, lumped in with other garments traditionally designed to be hidden away from view. Looking at the technical demands required to make a pair, they do somewhat pale in comparison to more obviously showy pieces, like a carefully cut blazer or sharp pleat-front trouser. But there are those that take the task of sock making as seriously as any tailor would a suit, and British-based Pantherella is one such brand, championing the craft required to create a phenomenal pair.
In fact, there aren’t many UK-based companies still dedicated to the old-world methods of sock making, most lost at the hands of offshore production, where quality and comfort are low priorities to price and speed. Pantherella is a stubborn stalwart, a sock maker’s sock maker, refusing to compromise on the principles that earned the brand its reputation in the first place.
Founded in Leicester in 1937, the company was an integral member of The Midlands’ hosiery industry, which at the time was a booming hub, supplying the UK and abroad. As the story goes, founder Louis Goldschmidt saw a gap in the market for fine gauge socks as an alternative to the bulky pairs more prevalent at the time, pioneering discreet varieties better suited to smart shoes. The brand quickly became renowned for just that, and was picked up by large department stores such as Selfridges and Harrods, where it’s still stocked season after season.
Pantherella CEO Justin Hall says the brand’s legacy is a testament to the quality of what they make, as well as the vast offering for customers, particularly when it comes to colour and finish. “Once people have bought into Pantherella and have an understanding about what they’re getting, it is pretty much a permanent part of someone’s wardrobe.
“We used to get stories and feedback from our wholesalers, that customers were coming in and buying 12 pairs in each colour, people just completely restocking their wardrobes,” Justin continues. “There’s a carton of socks we’ve had here for Harrods for three or four years for a Mr Sultan – he used to come in and buy £10,000 worth of socks in a season.”
Using the finest materials is a major factor in achieving the look and feel of Pantherella’s socks. Twice a year, the brand’s lead designer attends trade shows to source the finest yarns – mainly from Italy – as well as scope out trends in terms of cut, shade and pattern. Inside Pantherella’s factory, which still operates in Leicester, those materials – 30 tonnes of Egyptian and Sea Island cotton, merino, silk and cashmere - are stacked high, in classic and vibrant hues, ready to be spun.