Gear trends: Winter socks for 2014/15

Hyped-up hosiery: Stylish winter socks boom, while ski and snowboard socks merge. Get the leg up on winter socks heading to retail in 2014/15.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2014 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Jan. 21 – 25. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and upload the articles to our searchable archives.

Folks sporting their outdoorsy socks anytime, for any activity are enjoying a fresh dash of style. For 2014/15, hosiery bridges the lifestyle and outdoor categories with amped-up aesthetics, and the fun is apparent.

“There’s a huge crossover in lifestyle and outdoors, and the two are starting to blend to have a technical sock that looks good. Hiking socks used to be just brown and ski socks were just black, but every year they seem to get a little funkier and have more personality. It’s definitely what people want,” said Jeremy Miglinas, softgoods buyer for outdoor retailer Gardenswartz in Durango, Colo.

Even socks with mint technical upgrades have polished looks, especially in the ski and snowboard field.

Darn Tough Vermont launches the Vertical line (MSRPs $23-$25), an all-inclusive ski and snowboard sock collection with six bright patterns including the men’s Pinnacle and ladies’ Shortcake in ultra-light or cushioned fits.

“In the old days, half the boots were extremely brutal as far as forward flex, but snowboard boots and ski boots are much more technical and comfortable now,” says Mark Comcowich, Darn Tough Vermont’s director of sales and marketing. “Rather than keeping and delineating the line we wanted to merge the line.”

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Also for skiers and boarders, SmartWool brings the merino wool PhD SlopeStyle line with mesh-ventilation zones and closer fit in fun patterns: a blown-up argyle Diamond Lamb, the Tube Sock and the Rasta-colored Margarasta with mismatched pairs (MSRPs $25). To improve fit and blood flow Lorpen North America upgrades the T3 Ski Light and T3 Ski Midweight (MSRPs $24/$25) merino wool and Primaloft blends with gender-specific, anatomically-shaped heel and ankle padding. Across its synthetic Ski, Board, Cold and Snow lines Thorlo incorporates a new yarn with increased softness and dyeing ability, and adds multiple cross sections to the fabrication — which enhances thermoregulation and moisture management — including the SKX Ski (MSRP $23)with a cushioned shin and instep. Fits extends unique pattern combos —like Military Olive and Jade Lime — into the ski ultra light, light, medium and pro designs (MSRPs $20-$23).

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Injinji introduces a mid-weight, over-the-calf ski and snowboard toe sock, the Snow Midweight OTC (MSRP $30) with padded shins and 20-30mmHg of graduated compression, while Icebreaker features its first graduated compression silhouettes, including the Ski Compression with 15-20mmHg of graduated compression in a merino wool blend (MSRPs $40).

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Beyond snow sport lines, lifestyle-focused designs are stepping it up.

Vim and Vigr adds a men’s category to its lifestyle compression socks, providing three colorful over-the-calf blends — wool, cotton or nylon — woven with 15-20mmHg of graduated compression (MSRPs $30-$35). Sockwell reintroduces the Incline Series 15-20mmHg graduated compression over-the-calf and quarter length socks (MSRPs $20-$25) with visual updates, and Icebreaker offers the Lifestyle Compression for travel and everyday wear (MSRP $40).

Fits debuts Center City (MSRPs $20-$21), a casual line with crew cut or knee-high lightweight wool blends in vibrant patterns such as Chevron Jacaranda, Geo Chestnut and Fresia. Goodhew delivers fresh aesthetics in its cashmerino-bamboo lifestyle blends, including the ladies’ knee-high Jag and men’s Trilogy (MSRPs $18-$22). Woolrich adds new colors and patterns including the women’s lightweight Classic Sheep and Fairisle knee-high, and the men’s Heritage Collection Buffalo Check plaid (MSRPs $16-$18). Point6 brings the block stripe or mixed stripe design to the Hiking Tech Blast light mini crew, and light or medium crew cuts (MSRPs $16.95-$22).

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Farm to Feet introduces a stylized hiking series woven with traditional outer nylon plating and inner wool construction. “We have new machines that are able to do a lot more pattern work in the traditional durable construction,” said Farm to Feet President Kelly Nester, pointing to the series’ Bend (MSRP $19), a medium-weight crew with full density cushioning and dyed striped design.

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Also on foot, a handful of pairs push forward fabrication construction and blends. Wigwam Mills offers an inaugural merino wool and Dri-release Tencel Ultimax fiber blend in two women’s hiking silhouettes — the Tech Pro Crew and Hiker Pro — and the lightweight Snow Hellion Pro ski sock (MSRPs $16-$22). Icebreaker updates its yarn construction in the Hike Light Plus with a thinner nylon for improved stretch, finer-count Lycra for better recovery and wider, loftier merino yarn for greater softness (MSRP $21).

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For runners, the PhD Run Ultra Light Kneehigh comes out from SmartWool (MSRP $26) and Darn Tough Vermont reinvents the classic gym sock with a merino wool blend in white, charcoal and black shades for everyday sports (MSRP $19).

--Morgan Tilton

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