Starting at the Bottom
January 17, 2014

Three young entrepreneurs have gotten their feet wet in the fashion world with premium, American-made, wool dress socks. 
Joshua Steinman, Jay Gaul IV and D. Turner Swicegood are 30, 30 and 26 years old, respectively. Once upon a time, three young men in search of safe nonconformity might have started a band. Now, three young men, especially three young men in Washington, might launch a start-up to make a statement about dress socks. 
Since they incorporated Penance Hall in June 2012, their lives have been measured in microns and needle counts. They've road-tripped their way up and down the Mid-Atlantic supply chain and studied the make and design of top-drawer overseas brand socks such as Pantherella and Marcoliani. 
Now, they've got the right breed of sheep (an American variant on the Merino), the right wool supplier in South Carolina, the right dyer and weaver and suppliers of nylon and spandex (all in North Carolina), the right needle count (200) and micron count (19.5), the right colors (crimson, blue and black, to start), the right spacing between stripes (three-quarters of an inch), the right height (above the calf muscle but below the knee). 
The three friends are trying to create a small business the hard way, the expensive way. The entirely American way. And if the business proves viable, they'll start to work their way toward a full line of clothing for men and women. 
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Reprinted in part from News & Record