As Mike from Epaulet mentioned in his post on visiting Pitti Uomo as a buyer, the sheer number of vendors, from small batch manufacturers to industry giants, is enough to drive a blogger crazy. As a visitor rather than a buyer, I had even less incentive to stay focused, especially when it came to the detail pieces–small leather goods, neckwear, socks, and the like.
Fortunately Fok and I were tipped off to check out the hosiery from Italy’s Bresciani, and we made a point to drop by the booth and talk with Massimiliano Bresciani and Will Boehlke, a fan and stockist. Like many vendors at Pitti (and any other tradeshow), Bresciani had some eye-catching if gimmicky merch out front, but the piano-key and fair isle socks belie the solid quality and subtle designs that are the brand’s backbone. Massimiliano explained that about half of the 360,000 pairs Bresciani makes each year in Spirano Bergamo, Italy, are seasonal designs, and the other half are essentially the same season to season–navy and black haven’t lost their appeal since the company was founded in 1970 by Massimiliano’s father. The wilder patterns and thematic socks are bigger sellers in the U.S. than in the other 42 countries to which Bresciani ships (Russians apparently prefer black, black, and black). The New York Times recently noted a trend for showy socks among tech entrepreneurs–wonder how many are besocked with Bresciani?
What Bresciani offers to those of use with less whimsical sock drawers is tremendous quality; socks in specific sizes; fine fabrics like silk, cashmere, vicuna, and alpaca; and a variety of designs in the less common but quite practical over-the-calf cut–a true rarity in the United States. Bresciani also has a high level of attention to detail: a 12-step production process that includes hand linked toes (Bresciani pointed out that “hand-linked” is something of a misnomer; the work is too fine to be done entirely by hand, but the sock must be manipulated by hand on the linking machine).
Sitting and discussing the minutiae of sock construction, we checked out Bresciani’s contrast rib socks in straightforward cotton, pure silk dress socks, and an endless variety of pattern. Massimiliano said they carry 85 to 90 designs each season. I inquired about recommended care for socks, as I’ve had several pairs of (non-Bresciani) hose in cashmere or silk blends disintegrate quickly. M. Bresciani recommends cold washing and hang drying. Avoid the dryer, he said, and their socks can last indefinitely.
After our visit, Massimiliano sent me a few pairs of over-the-calf socks to try out (no piano keys, fortunately), and a more complete review of how they’re holding up is to come.