Socks are an often ignored portion of our wardrobe. They get lost, mismatched, or haphazardly thrown on at the last minute.
Ricky Choi, the designer and co-founder of Nice Laundry, is out to change that. He and business partner Phil Moldavski (both DC natives) are focused on creating high quality, distinctive socks that won’t get lost in the shuffle. And, if your sock drawer is in really bad shape, they’ll even help you recycle your old socks to help decrease the growing amount of textile waste in this country.
We talked to Choi about his own personal style, how DC has influenced him, and what’s next for Nice Laundry.
Q: What has been the greatest influence on your personal style?
A: Heritage and functionality. I’m a sucker for the story behind a piece – whether it’s a Barbour jacket, Lacoste tennis shirt, Birdwell beach britches or an old pair of Bass Weejuns, items that are steeped in lineage and have stood the test of time instill a sense of tradition in me when I wear them. It elevates the everyday experience.
Functionality is also crucial. I pride myself in being dressed for whatever activity I’m participating in. You won’t find any delicate materials or articles devoid of pockets in my closet.
When you put heritage and functionality together, you get an authentic amalgamation that’s hard to beat.
Q: How has your style developed over the years?
A: It has definitely gotten more diverse. I grew up wearing the “DC high school uniform” (coat and tie or a polo shirt and khakis) and, while those outfits will always have a place in my heart, surrounding myself with people from many different walks of life have turned me onto a wide range of styles that allows my clothing to complement any mood that I’m in.
Q: How did DC influence your view on fashion and style?
A: DC is an interesting town. It’s a consistent juxtaposition of the buttoned-up, Hickey Freeman/Brooks Brothers Capitol Hill vibe with the outdoorsy penchant for Patagonia and Sperry. Call it vanilla, but I’ve always found comfort and familiarity in these brands. Once again, heritage and functionality are consistent themes. People say that DC doesn’t have a distinct culture, but I beg to differ.
Q: How would you describe your current style?
A: Slim-fit, rolled-up sleeved, country club tennis pro with a penchant for long, late dinners in a hip new restaurant.
Q: What’s your earliest style memory?
Q: What’s been your most memorable – in a good or a bad way – style moment?
A: When I turned my co-founder, Phil, onto colorful socks. We worked together at LivingSocial and he would always wear expensive jeans and dark dress shoes with ratty, white Adidas gym socks. I got him hooked on colorful socks and he hasn’t looked back since. Definitely the most significant public service my sense of style has done.
Q: We know you obsess about the quality of your socks, but what other fashion or style items are you particular about and why?
A: Jackets. They protect you from the elements, hold lots of stuff, and completely tie together an outfit. They need to have great zippers (we’re talking YKK at a minimum), raglan sleeves, articulating hoods and the right fit. Jackets that are well-engineered and have a truly flattering fit are diamonds in the rough. I’m on a lifelong journey to find perfect jackets. Rain jackets, pea coats, quilted down, leather – if anyone has suggestions, I’m all ears.
Q: What are your can’t-live-without hair, skincare, and other style-related products – and why?
A: Recipe for Men lotion and Deitanseki black soap. The lotion is light and feels great in the winter and the soap contains charcoal. I’ve never used soap that made me feel so damn clean. It’s from Japan, so the attention to detail is there and the packaging and look is quirky.
Q: You’ve recently made the jump to New York from DC. What do you miss most about this area?
A: The space and natural beauty. New York may be “the greatest city in the world” according to some, but give me the quiet, tree-lined neighborhoods of Northwest and the scenic drives around DC any day of the week. I will be back.
Q: What’s next for Nice Laundry?
A: You’ll have to stay tuned, we are doing some really exciting things. I see neon playing a big part in our future. The best way to be in the know is to follow us on Instagram.
Photos courtesy of Laura Fruchterman. Nice Laundry’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection launches online April 7.