There’s a lot to be said for doing one thing and doing it extremely well. When business graduates Jacques Tiberghien and Vincent Metzger launched Mes Chaussettes Rouges – five years ago as a website, then two years ago as a handsome, wood-lined store in the 15th arrondissement in Paris – they had one goal: to create the world’s finest sock shop. “We want to get to a point where a customer can come in here and we have absolutely any style of sock that they could ask for,” explains Metzger.
Mes Chaussettes Rouges offers a luxurious take on a singularly prosaic item. There’s nothing garish or novelty about the stock here, but this isn’t really the place to come for basic grey or black (although they do those too). “If someone comes in and asks for black,” says Tiberghien, “we try to steer them towards something more interesting, such as a Bresciani houndstooth or herringbone in grey and black [€22].”
Their biggest sellers come with institutional and infallible heritage. The Vert Académie socks (€20) by Mazarin (a brand exclusive to them in France) are worn by members of the French Academy, while the eye-catching cardinal-red socks (€20) are by Gammarelli – outfitters to the Vatican. They are literally cardinal red. “They were the first socks we sold,” says Metzger. “We had Gammarelli in mind when we were still at business school and the French prime minister François Fillon was known for wearing them. We are the only place outside Rome that sells the brand.”
These socks also gave the business its name. “People love them,” says Metzger, “some because they like the idea of wearing the same socks as the Pope, others because they want to break up a black outfit with a flash of bright red.”
The range at Mes Chaussettes Rouges continues to expand. There are kilt socks (€65) available in contrasting colours and with tassled garters (€5) made in England by Mazarin Sport. “We call them shooting socks,” says Metzger, “but the French wear them for hiking.” At the top end, there are cashmere-, silk- and vicuña-blend socks (€520) and a made-to-measure service allowing for any colour and style (from 15 per cent more than the off-the-shelf stock, with a minimum order of 24 pairs).
The packaging is superlative, whether the socks are sold in the shop or online, with every order wrapped in tissue and presented in fine red cloth bags. Online orders arrive with a handwritten note.
Predictably things are busiest in the run-up to Christmas – with cashmere socks selling particularly well – but Mes Chaussettes Rouges is far more than a seasonal success story. It has a loyal and growing customer base that can’t bear to buy socks from chain stores. “These men see socks as potentially the weakest link in their wardrobe,” says Tiberghien. “They have the best shoes and suits, so they want the best socks.”
“We have one customer, a banker, who buys 300 pairs at a time,” says Metzger. “He said his greatest pleasure was being able to put on a brand new pair of socks each morning.”