Signature Stripe Socks
Meet Lars the sock man and learn how the Signature Stripe sock comes to life in a small factory in rural Sussex.
Lars Francus has been working with Paul Smith for more than a decade. “I started supplying neckwear and swimwear,” says Lars, “then I kind of worked my way down to doing socks.”
For Lars and the team at KV Manufacturing, the first stage in the sock making process is to translate sock designs into technical knitting patterns that the state of the art knitting machines can understand. However, with graphics, colours and stripes a-plenty, Paul Smith socks present him with a very specific challenge.
"What I love about ‘Smithy’ is that every sock has Paul’s unique style with an array of colours, yarns and patterns, which makes my job a lot more interesting", he says. For example, the Signature Stripe sock has 13 individual colours that must be woven together.
After the machine has knitted the sock and closed the toe, the socks are washed and tumbled to soften the material. Next, they are steamed and pressed back into shape, which involves them being placing on stainless steel feet. Finally, the individual socks are hand matched into pairs and packaged for selling.
After each of these stages the socks are checked and double-checked by the factory’s technicians and operators to make sure they are of the highest standard.
While these Signature Stripe socks are knitted and finished in a factory in the leafy Sussex countryside, sock making is an international process. A Belgian national himself, Lars works with suppliers and factories around the world and has found a second home in the UK. He speaks fondly of the English “eccentricity” and “quirkiness” of British style.
As a sock man, Lars admits that it’s exciting to have a design partner who keeps you on your toes. “Each day working with Paul Smith is different,” he says, "but every day is exciting".