Hey, gidday mates! D’ya like socks? I like socks. They’re up there with hand-knitted sweaters and the perfect blue jeans as some of my favorite items of clothing. My fellow New Zealander Ophelia Mikkelson has been quietly hand-making (not to mention photographing) some of the best socks in the world for the past couple of years, and they’ve only just become available online via her brand spanking new, perfectly pared-back e-commerce site. To celebrate, I asked her to answer a few questions, and she very kindly obliged. The following is a short conversation about socks.
It was Autumn last year and I felt the inevitability of winter creeping into my bones. I walk a lot and I made a decision never to be cold. So I decided to make a pair of socks for myself, and then my friends wanted them, and then strangers… so I just kept making them.
Well played. Tell me about the production process.
The socks are knitted on Japanese knitting machines. I then hand-finish them at my kitchen table (or occasionally in bed).
Do they feel slash behave the same as normal socks?
The yarn that I use is made from linen and cotton. I want the socks to be functional and luxurious. Because of the linen in the yarn they can be Sunday-best or hardwearing everyday socks.
Cool. And do you have a favorite pair/colour?
Right now, my favourite colour is ‘girl’. It’s a dusty lavender purple. I also love the ‘green’. Green is my favourite colour. [Isaac here: I don’t love green usually but I love the green Ophelia uses.]
Okay, so: We live in a throwaway, fast-fashion world — what inspired you to create something so painstaking?
I didn’t really think about it because there’s no other way I’d be happy doing them. I could go offshore and make the socks a whole lot cheaper, but that isn’t an option for me. I want to support a local community of makers and be a part of that conversation.
I like that. Who are your co-collaborators?
My boyfriend Ryder is an artist, and we work on a lot of creative projects together. He helps me narrow down my colour selection and has trialed the durability of the socks as an everyday hardwearing item. He skates in them and welds in them and still no holes!
So they’re worth every penny! Who’s another Kiwi doing really great stuff right now?
Our best friend Gareth Hemmings has just launched a label called BeachBrains. It’s all New Zealand made menswear using organic cotton and Japanese linen and it is awesome. Simple, good quality clothing and even though it’s originally designed as menswear I’ve ordered one of everything.
What could the rest of the world learn from New Zealand and what could New Zealand learn from the rest of the world?
I think we can learn and be encouraged from each other’s strengths and creativity. There are so many people making their way doing what they love; it’s a good reminder to only spend time doing what I love to do: Making, cooking and being near the sea.
I LIKE YOU!