Summer socks pick up slack of minimalist footwear

The less-is-more approach to shoes places increased demand on socks for foot protection and recovery. Here's what's ahead for in hosiery for 2014.
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The less-is-more approach to shoes is making outdoor and endurance socks even more crucial for foot protection and recovery.

“We’re focusing on providing a greater layer between the foot and the shoe,” said Mercedes Marchand, Sockwell and Goodhew’s vice president of design and merchandising. That doesn’t necessarily mean thicker socks — the trend has been quite the opposite — rather, it’s about greater durability, a closer fit and the right amount of cushion.

Shorter lengths, lighter weights and compression socks are on the rise for spring/summer 2014 hosiery, as more outdoor sock brands expand to cover runners as well.

Goodhew gets a toehold on a premiere run-tailored sock with the Inspire Series. These light cushion soles come in micro length with non-slip cushion tabs or low-quarter height (MSRP $16). Wigwam supplements runners’ wear with the Electra Low Cut (MSRP $11), which utilizes Dri-release Tencel for moisture management, while Lorpen reestablishes the low-cut open-mesh Coolmax Multisport Ultralight (MSRP $11) with increased Coolmax content (now 75 percent) to achieve a minimalist and moisture-wicking design for off-trail runs.

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“Running is a sport that continues to be very strong because no matter where you go and no matter how the economy is, you can put on a running shoe ... it’s very accessible,” Marchand said.

Among the surge of compression designs, Point6 adds to its Celliant/merino blends with a low-cut Celliant Ultra Light Mini Crew (MSRP $18) for trail running, and expands the Pulse Celliant Compression OTC, including the Celliant Compression Wave with a vertical gradient color wave (MSRP $40). Lorpen complements its winter graduated compression calf-wear with a Compression Light Calf Sleeve (30 mmHg in the ankle and 20 mmHg in the upper calf) for warmer months (MSRP $30), and Sockwell introduces the Incline Run Series to its cashmerino-bamboo blends with micro cushion soles and three zones of 15-20 mmHg graduated compression in knee-high and OTC lengths, plus quarter lengths with two compression zones (MSRPs $17-$25).

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The growth of compression is not exclusive to the running category. For hiking, Falke announces the knee-high TK Energizer (MSRP $75) and the calf-length TK Stabilizer (MSRP $38). The lightweight micron-merino wool TK Energizer holds 16-22 mmHg of graduated compression while the TK Stabilizer — which incorporates active ankle stabilization — houses compression at the calf base and ankle. Fox River showcases its multi-sport Peak Sport Series with Helix Fit Volumetric Compression — which provides compression through the foot and leg — in men’s and women’s crew, 1/4 crew and ankle cuts that are stitched with Tencel and NonoGlide to reduce moisture and eliminate friction (MSRPs $13-$14). In lifestyles, Dahlgren reintroduces the Compression with a flat-knit top, half-cushion foot and 15-20 mmHg graduated compression (MSRP $45). And Sockwell brings compression to its women’s everyday line in the ultra-light cushioned Damask (MSRP $25).

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Leaner and shorter designs are not just for runner’s feet. In its run/bike category, Darn Tough Vermont brings a non-terry No-Show Tab Ultra-Light sock for men and women (MSRP $14) with a high-density knit (1,441 stitches per square inch) and a new, elongated toe box design. For adrenaline sports, including trail running, Farm to Feet launches the Adventure Sport category with its first ultra-light sock, the Greensboro (MSRPs $17-$20), in low-cut, 3/4 crew and 1/4 crew. Farm to Feet also adds lower-reaching socks to its Adventure Hike category, including the low-cut, lightweight Grosse Pointe, and a 1/4 crew for the Ballston Spa and Adel (MSRPs $17-$20). Icebreaker offers a women’s cushion-free merino wool-based Lifestyle Ultralight Low Cut (MSRP $16), and Woolrich lightens and lowers the Superior Hiker Low to create the mid-weight merino wool Superior Hiker No Show (MSRP $12) with heel and toe cushion zones. In a lightweight, trail-to-town, do-it-all sock, Dahlgren debuts the Half Pass (MSRP $20), with a length that is approximately 3 inches lower than a crew, and the Light Cushy (MSRP $15) for kids.

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Wild running shoe colors also influence sock designs this season. Injinji initiates a bright palette across run, sport, trail and yoga categories, including a spread of unique stripes for the Sport Life crew and micro cuts (MSRPs $10-$12). SmartWool similarly showcases eye-catching hues with an emphasis on running socks, including SmartWool Green and Bright Red, seen in the PhD Compression Calf Sleeve and PhD Run Ultra Light Micro (MSRPs $16-$35).

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--Morgan Tilton

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