These have an uncomfortable seam. These stink after a single wear. These don’t fit properly. These fit but aren’t soft enough. These are soft but too expensive.
Such are the complaints Rex Zhang has heard over the years from his best mate Nathan Yun, an avid surfer who could never find the right socks to keep him warm after an early morning dip.
Zhang works in textiles and his family’s been in the industry for 30 years, so he saw it as a challenge. Why not make the world’s most comfortable socks themselves? The two Melburnians founded Paire to do just that.
“We started all the research from scratch – I first consulted 14 textile specialists and they all came back with the same answer: to make the world’s most comfortable socks, you have to figure out a way to blend merino wool with organic cotton,” Zhang tells Broadsheet.
But the two fibres are naturally incompatible, and finding a factory able to make the yarn and fabric was tricky. After scouting around Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the UK, they found a small factory in Germany that could do the job.
It took more than 100 tries to get it right, but eventually they developed the Cool Blend, a 50-50 split of certified organic cotton (for strength and durability) and Australian merino wool (for warmth, comfort and softness). Recycled nylon is added to help with the snug fit, and there’s a hint of elastane along the cuff.
The material is only part of the equation though – Paire socks also have a leg-up in design. “Our feet are actually 90 degrees but most socks on the market are designed to be 120 degrees just because it’s easier for machines to produce them that way,” Zhang says. Using that German-made fabric, the socks are produced at a factory in China that can make them at 90 degrees.
The toes are hand-sewn shut so there’s no irritating seam, and the heel and toe have “cloud cushioning” (aka thicker support) to help keep a spring in your step no matter how far you’re walking.
Paire socks start at $19.90 a pair and come in three styles – a low-cut ankle sock, the slightly longer quarter sock and a warm calf sock for winter. There are multiple colourways available, from minimalist black or white to a bright yellow and sky blue. And each one is simply designed with the words “good feels”.
Soon the duo hopes to introduce kids socks, winter sports socks and active socks made with a new blend.
“The things that make a garment great isn’t so much about the look but the comfiness of it – how comfortable it is to wear,” Zhang says. “The most important part of our clothing is what’s touching our skin, and sometimes you don’t see them – it’s the underwear, the socks, the thermals.”
Most of Zhang’s personal sock inventory is by Paire, although he tries out other brands from time to time to check out the competition. “I’m not trying to sound too confident here, but so far I haven’t found anything else that’s better than Paire.”
And for a limited time, you can get your first pair for free. Head to the website and scroll to the bottom to find out how – you just have to pay for shipping.
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