James Griffin 's Opinion

James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

James Griffin: How much would you pay for socks?

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How much are you willing to pay for a pair of socks? Photo / Thinkstock
How much are you willing to pay for a pair of socks? Photo / Thinkstock

How much would you pay for socks? Socks, actual socks that go on your feet, one per foot, not socks as a euphemism for a word that sounds a lot like "socks".

Think about it a moment. Then settle on the absolute highest amount of dosh you would be willing to lay out for one pair of socks.

If that number is $1744.88 (or thereabouts, depending on what the exchange rate today is for £895) then, boy, have I got the socks for you.

Well when I say "I" have the socks for you, I don't actually have the socks, but I do know where you can get them: Harrys of London. Given Harry's prices this could very well be Prince Harry flogging off stuff from the Palace, but on the evidence given, you'd have to say this is a real store, charging a very real £895 for a pair of socks.

Are these Super-socks? Do they enable you to fly and/or leap buildings in a single bound? No, they are socks; plain old charcoal grey socks. Well, plain except for the fact they are made from something called Cervelt™.

Cervelt™, so I learn, is like cashmere - only heaps and heaps better. All the things you know and love about cashmere, double that loveliness and apparently you are starting to get the idea of Cervelt™. I have a pair of cashmere socks which are, now I come to think about it, the best damn socks I own. So I can only marvel at how awesome Cervelt™ must feel when snuggled around your feet as winter closes in.

Cervelt™ is trademarked, hence the little ™ thingy after it. It is a fibre found on New Zealand red deer and is a layer of down they have under their coarse outer coat, to help protect them when living in places like Otago. It must be a phenomenally thin layer because only 20g of the pure good stuff can be collected from each deer. But a Tauranga company, Douglas Creek, figured out how to turn this minuscule fluffy stuff into, well, the smoothest thing to come out of Tauranga since Winston Peters. And try as you might, there is simply no way you can turn Winston Peters into socks or any other garment.

Clearly, creating the Cervelt™ fabric is no easy task, hence the eye-watering cost of the socks, so one can only wonder as to how much more substantial Cervelt™ garments, like a suit, would cost.

Actually you don't have to wonder anymore, because by using precise scientific techniques involving a tape-measure, a calculator and educated guesswork, I have worked out that there is 0.144 sq m of fabric in a nice pair of dress socks that go most of the way up the calf. Then, using the internet, where no one agrees with anyone else and the same calculator, I have further gleaned that: (a) it takes about 3.5m of fabric to make a three-piece suit; and (b) that rolls of suit fabric are usually 60 inches (or 1.52m) wide. Therefore, using my acute mathematical and logical brain, I reckon that adds up to 5.32 sq m of fabric.

If you accept all this is true and accurate, which I admit is unlikely from anyone but me but I don't care, then to buy a three-piece suit made of Cervelt™ would cost something like $64,463.62 for the fabric alone, plus whatever the tailor charges. I don't think Hallensteins will be stocking Cervelt™ suits any time soon.

But what a suit a Cervelt™ suit would be. Oh my, oh my, it would be the softest, strokiest, most tactile suit known to humanity. It would also be impossible to wear in public because people would always be touching it and stroking it and rubbing their faces on it and leaving drool on it.

No, a Cervelt™ suit would definitely be a wear-in-the-privacy-of-your-own-home suit. This, I fully admit, is an odd thing for a suit to be and rather defeats the purpose of the suit, so maybe a Cervelt™ onesie would be more the way to go.

Either way, when you can barely afford the Cervelt™ lint off a lint roller used to roll the Cervelt™ socks, these garments seem like garments from another planet. This, coincidentally, is how much of the rest of New Zealand views Tauranga, but that is incidental to this story of the joy of socks.

Still, if there is an upside to these feet never feeling what it is like to be swaddled in Cervelt™ it is that I will never know the pain and heartbreak when one of them inevitably goes missing in the wash.

- NZ Herald

James Griffin

James Griffin is a columnist for Canvas magazine.

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