Ah, the job of an “06880” blogger. One day it’s talking about dog poop; the next, it’s interviewing a sock and underwear designer to the stars.
Last Saturday, Vivek Nagrani was at Mitchells . That’s the day the store buzzes with A and A+ celebrities — TV anchors, CEOs, UConn basketball coaches. Nagrani was there to meet and greet.
Mitchells shoppers — plus movie stars, professional team owners and several US presidents — swear by Nagrani’s socks and underwear. They’re pricey, sure — but they also look and feel like no socks or underwear you’ve ever worn before.
Or so I’m told.
Nagrani — who was born in India, moved to Brooklyn as a young child, and graduated from USC in 1994 with a degree in business administration — is more than a supplier to Mitchells. He is, he says, their #1 sock and underwear vendor.
And he and the family are good friends.
“Our philosophies are similar,” Nagrani says. “We enjoy each other’s company, as well as business.”
Nagrani’s socks are orange, pink, red and teal. They come in funky, whimsical patterns, like paw prints or flowers that are revealed only when a man sits and crosses his legs. They have names: Astaire, Villalobos, High Tide.
He makes only 312 pairs in any one color. (The number is not mystical. It’s all he could afford when he was starting out, and he’s not about to change.)
Nagrani is passionate about socks. He is proud, he says, to have “changed the way men view a product they never really thought about, or even disregarded.”
Back in the day — the pre-Nagrani day — socks “always slid down,” he says. “Now you can wear socks, and feel good.”
Former president George H.W. Bush wears Nagrani’s socks to the gym, he says.
He — Nagrani, not Bush — thoroughly enjoys hanging out at Mitchells. “There’s an easy-going atmosphere here,” he says. “An open-minded attitude about trying something new. Red, green, pink socks — people thought they were ridiculous. Now some of them own over 100 pairs.”
Many Mitchells customers work in “conservative environments,” Nagrani notes. His socks serve as “a great ice-breaker. They change the energy of meetings.”
Mitchells customers — and his own — are “the Joneses other people look up to.” When men take off their shoes at airport security checkpoints, showing their Nagrani socks, presumably the Riffs and Raffs are impressed.
Throughout Saturday, Nagrani chatted with Mitchells’ Joneses. He discussed upcoming lines, got feedback, and learned from them about socks and underwear.
He had plenty of praise for the entire Mitchell family.
“The whole family has been so embracing to a guy like me,” Nagrani says. “They’re so reflective of this community. And they make a small vendor like me want to do as much as I can for them.”
So — I had to ask — what is Nagrani’s favorite sock?
“I can’t answer that,” he says.
“A man will match his sock to his trousers. A gentleman will match his sock to his mood.
“The idea is to always have fun. Getting dressed should be an experience.
“Small things make a big difference. We remember the little things in life.”