[Note: The Dandy Store has been bought by Mes Chaussettes Rouges, who can be found here]
Apparently, men in France wear appalling socks. I thought the standard in the UK was low, and the US probably worse, but according to Michel Porteneuve and Jean-Christophe Hanier at The Dandy Store, the French take the biscuit.
No pattern, and precious few socks above the calf. The latter fact spurred Michel and Jean-Christophe to set up their own socks business online; the former was their unique selling point.
The Dandy Store’s socks are made by Bresciani in Italy. Bresciani makes for a few online retailers, but is still less known than Falke, Pantherella or Gallo. The French pair considered all these makers and more, eventually narrowing it down to Bresciani and Gallo based on both manufacturers’ “quality as regards length, softness, durability and craftsmanship. We required at least partial hand-construction and an originality in both patterns and fabrics,” they say. In the end Gallo lost out to Bresciani on durability, innovation and because the former was a more common name in France.
While Bresciani makes socks for several of the luxury houses, including Arnys, Corneliani and Brioni, its output is normally quite conservative. Which is where the USP comes in. The Dandy Store purposefully offers unusual patterns and colour combinations (all exclusive) that Michel and Jean-Christophe haven’t seen elsewhere. “Among Bresciani customers we are the black sheep, always trying to get them to do something unusual,” says Michel. “Though I’m pretty sure they could do anything.”
This is pretty obvious from the website: grey and burgundy mix together on one intricate pattern; stripes come in ‘anis’ and ‘bistre’; a ribbed design combines charcoal and chocolate. But while the blends are unusual, the patterns are relatively subtle – no polka dots, no bright blocks of colour, just herringbones, hound’s teeth, ribs and argyles. Overall it makes for socks that don’t shock from a distance, but reward closer inspection.
There is a real lack of good socks in the UK, as well as France. I live and work in London, am in the west end most days, yet I can’t find good over-the-calf socks in subtle vertical stripes. Or any other subtle but sophisticated pattern for that matter. Everyone sells block colours, in every shade, but I don’t want lime green or emergency orange. I want a sock that compliments my suit, tie or handkerchief with subtle variations on their dominant colours. Even a grey or navy with a subtle stripe would be fine.
So I’m glad I found the Dandy Store. Its scarves and ties look nice too, but I can’t vouch for them – unlike the Harlequins in blue and purple, which I’m wearing right now and both look and feel lovely.