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Q&A: Ricky Choi of Nice Laundry, a Kickstarter that wants to be in your sock drawer.

When Wefty got married, the gift he gave to us groomsmen included a green Tie and a really nice pair of V.K. Nagrani socks. The socks were great: Original patterns, nice materials, and they stay up however high you roll them, which is typically onto my calf. But they also cost around $40 a pair. So when I came accross the Nice Laundry Kickstarter, I was definately interested: Their goal is to deliver half a dozen socks of comparable quality for the price of a single pair of luxury socks. I reached out to them about doing a review. Unfortunately, that will not be a possibility until a later date due to the low number of socks they have on hand. But Nice Laundry founder Ricky Choi did agree to send me some pictures of some never before shown details, and took the time to answer a few questions. All pictures in this post have been sent to me by Ricky Choi.


The Details
From the Kickstarter page, here are a few details for the socks $39 for six pairs, or $89 for eighteen pairs. 80% cotton, 19% nylon, 1% spandex. These socks rise to the mid-calf, and are one-size fits all. Delivery is included, and all orders also come with a prepaid shipping label for recycling old socks. The project passed it’s fundraising goal some time ago, and they are estimating a July 2013 shipping date.

Inside out, heel-seem

I asked for inside shots of the seams, and from the pictures sent to us of these details, the fabric looks nice and well constructed, with well-detailed seamwork at the heel and toe.

Inside out, toe

The Interview
His responses to my questions (bold) are in italics.

Where is the factory you’ll be using for construction, and what decisions went into using them?

Our factory is located just outside of Seoul, South Korea. My family is originally from there, and I have a close relationship with them from producing high-end polo shirts, oxfords, t-shirts and shorts in the past. This factory is significantly more expensive (over 2x the cost) compared to China and other Asian countries, but I’ve found their fabrics, attention to detail and quality control unparalleled.

Before starting this project, what brands of socks did you wear? What do you like about them, and what do you dislike, and how did those factors impact your design?

Great question! My favorite brands out there are Paul Smith, Corgi and Pantherella. I am a big fan of the fabric quality, flat toe seams and knit density of these brands. I do think that the price point of these socks make them very unapproachable, however. At $30 on up per pair, it becomes very difficult for most people to stock their sock drawers with these colorful, quality socks.
That’s where we come in. We take the best features from our favorite socks and added in a custom cuff design and our own patterns, which range from classic to contemporary. Our custom cuff, which utilizes a unique knit, works to keep your sock up through the day. Lastly, by cutting out the retail middleman and selling directly to our customers, we’re able to price these things to sell. A 6-pack will run you $39 shipped and our 18-pack, enough to upgrade your entire sock drawer, comes in at $89 with complimentary shipping.

I like the recycling concept, and the idea of upgrading your sock drawer rather than replacing it. Can you explain the philosophy of how the recycling project ties in with the overall project?

We’ve always been big fans of the buy one, give one model, made popular by TOMS, but always felt that it lacked a sense of direct connection. As a customer, sending your own socks back for recycling is a tangible, physical investment in the cause.
We wanted people to be very excited about refreshing their whole sock drawers, so we decided to help them make make room for their new socks. What better way to do that then to allow your socks to live a second life? The US throws away 19 billion pounds of textile waste every year, on track to hit 35 billion by the year 2019. We’re going to do our part to help get that number to zero.

 

I get recycling– Break the socks down, spin new fibers, and use them. But when you say Repurposing old socks, what sort of repurposing do you mean? Do you have suggestions for repurposing and reusing people could do on their own at home?

Socks can be repurposed across a multitude of industries. Most commonly, they are turned into wiping rags for auto maintenance and manufacturing facilities. That being said, there are plenty of ways to repurpose your socks at home. Socks make great dusting cloths, excellent draft guards when filled with some sort of insulating material and placed in front of a drafty door and my personal favorite–drop a bar of soap in a sock and use it to really scrub your hands and fingers after a long day in the garden or garage.
When customers send their socks to us, depending on condition, they will be cleaned up and sent to areas of need, repurposed into industry-specific implements or recycled into cool things like home insulation and dog beds.
 

After this kickstarter is fulfilled, do you plan to continue offering Nice Laundry socks through another platform? Do you plan to offer more clothing offerings following the socks? 

We are launching our online store shortly after the conclusion of our Kickstarter campaign. Expect clean, minimalistic design with bright pops of color and efficient use of negative space. At some point we will branch out from socks, but not until we feel like we’ve really helped put a dent in the amount of bad sock drawers out there! As far as what those items will be…let’s just say they’re going to be things that we all have terrible relationships with.

Anything else you’d like to tell our readers? 

Our favorite part about our Kickstarter campaign has been connecting with and talking to the hundreds of backers who have reached out to us. Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line to ask us a question, pass along a suggestion or otherwise shoot the breeze: hello[at]nicelaundry.com 

 

Final Words
I don’t like make recommendations about clothing without actually having handled it first, but the detailed seamwork and designs that I have seen in these pictures and those on their Kickstarter page make me think that this project is going to be making a very nice sock. The details are comparable to $40/pair V.K. Nagrani, but it’s impossible for me to judge the material without looking at them in person. Since the campaign has already reached it’s fundraising goal, a pledge is as good as a pre-order, so if you are looking for a fresh set of socks for your wardrobe, I’d definitely consider making a pledge over at Nice Laundry’s Kickstarter page if the price point and designs are appealing to you. Nice Laundry has also announced a stretch goal: If the project passess $100k in pledges (currently over $90k), then every pledge pack will come with an extra sock in Kickstarter’s black and green colored stripes. At about $6 a sock, I think this kickstarter is a chance worth taking. We hope to give updates on the project as it unfolds.

As always, thanks for reading at Wefty + Mash!
-Mash

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