New York-based British Apparel recently contacted OTC with the news that, along with its Italian partner Punto, they had developed the world’s first, 12-month, year-round cashmere socks. And, they are machine washable. Would I like to try out a couple of pair?

Of course I did; not only because I’ve wanted to check out cashmere socks ever since I sold them at $175 a pop for Ralph Lauren way back when, but also because I really wanted to see if they are in fact machine washable. One of the biggest pet peeves I have about these kinds of luxury items is the maintenance factor.

According to British Apparel’s press release, these new socks are, “Hailed The Coziest, Comfiest Socks Ever. British Apparel’s Revolutionary New ‘All-Season Cashmere Collection’ Snubs All Temps, Cuddles Feet In A Cocoon Of Pillow-Soft Cushioning Year-Round. Then, just toss ’em in the washer!”

Cashmere of course is the holy grail of cold weather style. Light and pliable yet warm and silky soft – the last few years have seen every company from Brooks Brothers to Costco hawking their cashmere goods.

Quality and durability wax and wane depending on the maker and some claims while impressive are a little impractical. Anyone who has worn a single- or double-ply cashmere sweater to the office can probably tell you that triple-ply is only needed during arctic expeditions.

But winter is still cashmere’s ideal clime and the idea of year-round cashmere socks intrigued me. According to BA, their Punto-made cashmere socks are “Mother Nature’s ultimate shock absorbers.”

With that impressive claim in mind, off I went to the daily commute. While I was no less tired at the end of my test week, I have to admit that my cashmere ensconced feet felt great. In fact, what struck me was that they felt so good I never really thought about those socks I was trying out. Not bad at all.

As great as cashmere is, cashmere socks have two well-known problems: one, their fame as winter’s one-trick pony, and second, their reputation as being frail and fragile – suitable only for hand washing.

Those two Achilles’ heels have apparently been resolved because I’ve shuttled my Punto socks from washer to dryer several times after days of use and they are just fine. Mind you, I followed the care instructions but I nonetheless pretty well beat them up.

What makes it work? Essentially, Punto’s new collection is a hi-tech blend of yarns that combine three hybrid versions of everyday yarns – cashmere, super-soft cotton and a smidgen of hi-performance nylon for stretch, elasticity and long-wear durability.
So, technically, they are not cashmere-only socks, no doubt leaving some purists appalled, but I have no problem with a little modern tinkering.

The collection’s 18 colors come in a dress weight and are available in the taller and dressier, over-the-calf silhouette as well as the shorter and sportier, mid-calf height. Retail prices for the socks will run in the range of $55 to $65, respectively.

To buy your own pair, please visit British Apparel’s website and online store.

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