The new spin on socks? Hotter, smoother and more synthetic.
We'll be adding stories from Outdoor Retailer Daily over the next several weeks. This Gear Trends article can be found on page 36 of the Day 4 issue.
More and more synthetic socks are showing up next season, including fresh pairs for skiers, snowboarders and runners. That’s because choosing a non-wool blend could be a lifestyle or environmental preference: “Some people that are vegan have requested for us to have a synthetic sock,” said Brian Brand, Marketing Director at Darn Tough Vermont. Cringing at “wool” in a label could be part educational, too. Ideas of traditional wool — itchy, uncomfortable, bulky — may eclipse the modern affair. “There’s a stigma around merino, which is not the same material as what people think of as grandmother’s classic wool. My whole neck turns blotchy with ragg wool, but it’s pretty infrequent that someone is going to have an allergic reaction to merino,” Brand added.
Your toes needn’t stay toasty with hot cocoa and peppermint schnapps alone. New textile technologies from some brands are jumping into ski socks that can help to regulate heat — even in the thinnest, pairs intended for racers. “Anything to increase heat in the foot is a good thing, which is a number one priority for everyone on the ski hill,” said Jared Finnery, CEP Compression Sportswear Sales Manager — not just slalom skiers.
Hikes to hops
Taking queues from multiuse footwear and overarching athleisure trends, socks are experiencing more crossover, technically and aesthetically. Hikers want thoughtful style and design for post-trail beta swaps and professionals want more durability. “The consumer is looking for product that fits any environment they encounter and that’s also visually appealing,” said Margaret Newhard, Director of Product Management for Wigwam, which focused on designing socks for ’16-’17 that “provide the wearer with the ability to hike a fourteener and then seamlessly transition to meeting up with friends afterward at a local pub.” Having solely stylish socks also helps to streamline that sock drawer.
1. Made in Germany, the CEP Ski Ultralight Socks (MSRP $55) from CEP Compression Sportswear will help to heat-up chairlift rides with the textile technology Smart Infrared. In the brand’s thinnest ski sock to date, the Emana yarn — made by Solvay — is embedded with bioactive minerals that absorb body heat and emanate far infrared rays back onto the skin.
2. For skiers and boarders, the Women’s Taos (MSRPs $23-$24) from Darn Tough Vermont features a color-poppy Southwest design, inspired by Native American blankets, on a trending denim-inspired vapor blue.
3. If only your favorite socks would last forever. Or at least last for several expeditions to summit the world’s highest peaks. In collaboration with iconic alpinist Conrad Anker, SmartWool launches IndestructaWool technology included in its PhD Mountaineer (MSRP $34.95) sock, that was field-tested and tweaked by Anker. Focused on enduring a big ascent, the design features an aggressive mesh vent zone in the instep, 20-30 mmHg and graduated compression in the heel.
4. For a sock that can be worn both on the trails and with dress shoes, Lorpen North America introduces the TR2 (MSRP $18), which debuts a new Merino-polyester micro-fiber blend that enhances the performance of the Merino.
5. In lightweight designs with zonal heel-and-toe cushioning, Wigwam releases the Peak to Pub Collection (MSRPs $16-$17) with Ultimax construction — a push-pull system that draws moisture away from the bottom of the sock byway of drirelease at the foot’s base and Merino wool up top — in three of the four pairs.
6. For ladies’ everyday wear, the medium weight over-the-calf Billings Knee High (MSRP $26) from Farm to Feet reflects a trending fashion-forward pattern of abstract forms and geometric arrays with strong, saturated colors. Socks’ graphics continue to evolve with greater detail and more complexity. One reason is the influence from the screen print market and sublimation, which pours into the outdoor market, and helps to drive competition and technology, attributed Farm to Feet Product Designer Anna Hall.
7. Krimson Klover ups the novelty even more in its ski sock designs with new custom illustrations including the Ski Resort Graffiti (MSRP $28). Knit with a custom house-made Merino based yarn, the sock “is a play to all of the graffiti we are seeing in the fashion world right now. We took a few of our favorite ski resorts around the world and created a fun, whimsical print that would resonate with the ski and outdoor industry,” said Krimson Klover Founder Rhonda Swenson.