|The Sad Decline of Pantherella|
|A Once Great Sock Maker Succumbs to the Bean-Counters|
Marcoliani's Men's Cashmere MicroStripe
It's quite simple really. Nothing has happened. Absolutely nothing at all. And that ... is the problem.
As said on their own website, "Pantherella has always bucked the trend, from its heyday in 1937 when founder Louis Goldschmidt ..." Sadly, this time they are bucking - rather than leading - the trend towards improved sock quality. When Pantherella was owned by the Goldschmidt family, innovation and improvement were key.
Not so today. Since Pantherella was sold a few years back to the H.J.Hall Sock Company, a maker of $6 English socks reputedly now manufacturing in Turkey, they have not kept pace with quality improvements by the forward-looking Marcoliani-Milano, Bresciani 1970, and other smaller Italian sock artisans. With Pantherella's head honchos unable to transcend the "bean-counter" mentality, Pantherella has languished.
Nobody is a stronger advocate of adherence to old-world quality than I, having fought the worldwide cheapening of fine custom shirtmaking for more than thirty five years now. But when technology advances and makes possible a better product, it is the duty of the conscientious artisan to use every possible advantage to improve his wares. Pantherella has failed in that regard. How?
When Marcoliani and Bresciani began producing on the newest, finest, more precise sock knitting machines, H.J. Hall's Pantherella flagship stood idly by, content to sit on their laurels. When Marcoliani improved their basic ExtraFine Merino dress sock to 80% natural fibre, Pantherella was content to leave theirs at 70%. Marcoliani made the same improvement to the basic cotton dress sock and released their 75% Cotton Lisle. Pantherella again bucked the trend and stayed at 70% cotton. Finally, when Marcoliani introduced their exciting 80% Peruvian Pima Cotton Lisle Wide Rib, Pantherella again did ... absolutely nothing. No wide rib Pima sock emanated from England.
As responsible top-market retailers, we must keep a close eye on changes such as these. We took it upon ourselves to do a comparative study. When Marcoliani and Bresciani exceeded all that had gone before by introducing 100% ExtraFine Merino stretch dress socks ... and also produced a 100% Cotton Lisle ... Pantherella didn't even take notice. They also failed to address the fact that Marcoliani and Bresciani had not only increased the natural fiber percentage by more than 12% but that the Italians had also made all their dress socks significantly more than an inch longer in height and their Merinos almost a full 2".
In sum, Pantherella has been bested ... by far. They have ignored their competitors' average improvements ranging between 112% and 121% better quality. And in keeping with our overarching policy of offering only the best, at the beginning of 2008 we upgraded our basic dress sock line to Marcoliani and Bresciani ... just as we did two years previously with the majority of our fashion and novelty socks.
Like to know more? Interested in the facts? Read the entire Quality Sock Comparison Study in complete detail. And our article about Sock Characteristics will help you greatly to discern which basic men's or women's dress socks - Merino, Cotton, Over-the-Calf, Mid-Calf, Ribbed or Plain - are best for you.
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