Meet the Maker - The London Sock Exchange

Meet the Maker - The London Sock Exchange

We worked with The London Sock Exchange to develop a range of socks inspired by characters on the Globe Theatre stage.

What got you started making / creating your designs / products?
I’ve always loved designing stuff – and clothes, especially. While I was still at school I’d even spend my free time designing alternative uniforms and sports kits for me and my classmates. Fast forward to 2014 – I'd left university and was living with a group of friends in London. We were all working in different corporate jobs – but realised we all made a special effort when it came to choosing great socks to wear. So I started looking into how to design and manufacture custom socks, got caught in a big sock-shaped rabbit-hole, and next thing you know my business partner and I launched the brand and our first product range. I guess we haven't really looked back since!

How would you describe your designing / creating style?
I love creating items which are playful in an understated, charming way – things which at first you may not notice, but once you do, deliver a real moment of joy.
It’s also important to me that the items are of the highest possible quality, and feel great to the touch too.
So when I’m designing socks, that means two things
#1 Visually, less can be more – a good sock doesn’t need its design to ‘shout’ in order to stand out and look great. The devil is in the detail!
#2 Materially, working with the very best materials available – the socks should be great to touch, but also durable enough to be worn dozens of times without developing holes.

What is your motto?
“Do things simply, properly and joyfully.”

This has been a mantra at The London Sock Exchange since the early days, and has informed how we go about doing anything as a business: from making our socks to designing our packaging to building our website – even managing our taxes.

What was your first success with your designs / products?
The early days at The London Sock Exchange were great fun. But probably the first real feeling of success was when I first spotted someone completely unknown to me wearing our socks out ‘in the wild’. It was during rush hour, and I saw the guy sitting opposite me on the Northern Line wearing a pair of socks I’d designed. I had no idea who he was, and I was too shy to chat to him, but I remember my heart almost fully jumping out of my chest.

Tell us about your design process.
From our studio we work to create designs which feel playful, contemporary and full of charm. Often this involves rendering things in miniature stitch-by-stitch – with the Globe range, think tiny Hamlet, miniature Macbeth, teeny Cleopatra, and so on. We do this digitally before working with our partner factories to create physical samples.

Once we have an approved sample – both in terms of stitch design and component yarns – we manufacture the socks in small-batch runs. We work in small batches to ensure that we meet the highest, most ethical standards in crafting our socks –  that means every single pair is knitted with 200 needles, for a finer, stronger finish, and is finished by hand for a seamless fit.

How important is environmental sustainability of your products?
Very important indeed! Since day one we’ve embedded sustainability into our business model and product lifecycle, through our sock recycling programme.

Nowadays, we look to factor in environmental and societal criteria into every single decision we make as a business. From our sock recycling to plastic-free packaging to organic cotton yarn selection, we look to make the most sustainable choice possible. So much so that in 2021, we were recognised as a future leading brand in fashion sustainability by the University of Cambridge – and alongside a selection of other British brands, we joined the university’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership fashion accelerator programme.

What has been your most interesting commission (apart from the Globe, obvs)?
We’re lucky to have some great partnerships as a brand – aside from the Globe, we’ve designed socks with 007, Queen and Transport for London. We’re very proud of them all!

Shop The London Sock Exchange socks for Shakespeare's Globe here

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