The difficulties one can endure when finding the right socks can be quite painful. Often times, the two-digit pricing can deceive us into thinking we are buying something cheap, relative to the hundreds or thousands spent on suits and other attire. In the case of socks, I find myself experimenting more often than not. Some of these I find locally or through word of mouth and still others through my favorite medium, Instagram! Many brands are lurking out there just waiting to be discovered, among them Victor and Albert. The name is seemingly British and evokes a sense of pedigree, rather, they are a sock-maker from South Korea priding themselves as a "Gentlemen's essential item maker." In addition to their repertoire of sock making, they have a penchant for scarves and ties as well. This article will focus on the merits of their socks only (disclosure: we were offered some socks to try).
What I can say is this, they've got a truly well made product in a market that's quite competitive. Victor and Albert hail from Korea, a country as rigid and obsessive over quality as our Japanese friends. Their popularity has largely been from their electronics and vehicles over the last decade, but menswear products are on the up and up. Sartorial gems such as B and Tailor, Maison steady-state shirtmaker, and Frui ties have made a name for themselves and sartorialists are taking note. Not that I would put Victor and Albert up there with them yet, but they've certainly got potential. Their socks come in two materials, a merino wool blend and a mercerized cotton blend of which I only had the latter to try. The socks are a blend of 80% Mercerized cotton, 18% Polyester and 2% Polyurethane. I'm far too weary of blends, in any article of clothing, but a good majority of sock-makers follow this practice. It has to do with keeping your socks from sagging and allowing them to stay taut through the days rigors. The Polyester-Polyurethane combination is actually "spandex", well known for its ability to conform to the wearers body-form when worn and easily retracted back to its original shape. This material is used in the body of the sock to keep it from straying too far down ones leg. Mercerization of cotton actually adds strength, luster and a touch of softness which are practical features for socks. The large percentage of Mercerized cotton used implies a more durable and well-worn sock, which can only be confirmed after multiple wash-wear cycles over an extended period. Unfortunately, our trial extends a few weeks at best so we'll have to report back on longevity down the road.
My personal opinion on the socks so far, I like them a lot. They mostly stay up, and long after many others would have hopelessly sagged or lost shape on the foot - too often to keep count, and that's being generous. Their designs are versatile and elegant without being ostentatious, removing any fussiness one might endure otherwise. Colors are equally diverse but well selected - rich forest green, deep-sea navy and a desert-sand tan to name a few. Patterns and textures are minimalist leaving little to mull over, a quick and easy buy if ever you needed one. The entire collection is offered in free sizing, best suited to a foot 250-280 centimeters in length and up to a US size 10.5 but there will be those who wont' fit well. It might be worthwhile to offer a few sizes for flexibility to those outside the norm. They're not offered as an over-the-calf but maybe that's not such a bad thing, especially since they stay up. A longer option doesn't hurt though and some prefer an OTC, to prevent any unsightly skin being exposed when seated - the no-sock movement excluded. Since we're on the subject, I have yet to find any socks that stay perfectly formed without any slippage irrespective of length. When purchasing socks, we are often unable to try them on to assess a potential for slip - so calculated risks must be taken.
V & A socks come packed in a beautifully made gift box, designed with a pleasing aesthetic in mind. As a suggestion, keep the box and throw your cuff-links or other small accessory items in there - a sustainability option to consider. After multiple uses and wash/dry cycles (as per the instructions), no visible shrinkage was observed but a little can be expected in the long run - count on the stretch to make up for it. The herringbone socks are made using a sensitive knitting method so the care regimen must be equally appropriate to avoid any damage. So far, I'm enjoying wearing them and they are in my regular rotation - which says a lot but I'll have to report back on longevity. If their company motto "Make reasonable. Give valuable," is any indication, I should get good use out of these reasonably priced pairs. Most of us have enjoyed the luxurious offerings from European makers, why not give Victor and Albert a chance as well.