Sunday, March 6, 2011

PERFORMANCE SOCKS: UNSUNG HEROS of A WARDROBE



BRIGHT NEW COLORS/TEXTILES FOR 2011

PART I:

DARN TOUGH, LORPEN and DAHLGREN

OUTDOOR RETAILER, SLC

Words/Images Judith Ecochard


Nothing like taking a snowy hike in freezing cold temps---unprepared--- to convince us of the value of a pair of warm, moisture wicking, heat insulating socks…

Because we think that wardrobe addition would have lessened the misery. Considerably.

Athletic socks are now practically custom tailored for very specific outdoor/indoor activities---boasting the kind of smart weaves and yarn components that one finds in the rest of the performance wear spectrum of things.

And probably the reason we find major outdoor brands conjuring up their own ped coverings.

At the tradeshow Outdoor Retailer, we always look forward to seeing what’s new at the companies that specialize in nothing but socks.






















DARN TOUGH –a made in Vermont brand ---introduced a terrific line of everyday fashion socks –in conjunction with Poppy Gall Design Studio, helmed by the gee whiz gal that founded the women’s outdoor label ISIS.

No surprise the intro last spring had an “amazing response” according to super nice Ric Cabot, who heads up this family owned Darn Tough, originally started by his father.

We thought, the graphics and color waves phenomenal…



Some new intros in their performance socks for 2011---for as Cabot noted---“…we did not earn our reputation on fashion, but on comfort, fit and durability…”

YES: The ultra-light running and bike socks---the “True-Seamless™” Socks made on the latest Euro machines knitting up a 21/5 micron shrink treated, naturally moisture wicking Merino wool and/or CoolMax® socks…

…That we previewed last season---are now in stores---serious comfort, no hot spots…or that yech lumpy feeling---especially noticeable since we run in those stripped down more Barefoot style sneakers. (MSRP around $14-$22)

For Fall 2011 this technology extends itself to the new True-Seamless™ padded ski/ride socks (with specifically targeted cushioning on the shin area) and also in the ultra light non-padded ski/ride option.






IMHO: A major addition to the Ski collection--- with more venting and reinforcements---and with awesome colors and graphics courtesy of Poppy Gall Design Studio.

We feel advanced “high performance” skiers---will particularly appreciate the less cushioning in the front of the boot. For better feel and comfort when tackling the mountains.

WHAT ELSE:

A feminine take on the women’s hiking/trek sock line----“softened up” cuff (smaller)…

Guys’ ski socks also get a changed silhouette---with those thick bands no longer at the top ---

And all get new color waves and knitting patterns that we feel are as incredibly stylish as the lifestyle socks…and editorially cohesive too---



It’s only a matter of time for this brand to show up in fashion retail stores…especially as men can now wear boots to urban city day jobs and be considered properly attired.


BTW: MADE IN THE USA, LIFE-TIME WARRANTY (WOW)---all socks made with a smaller needle knit resulting in more stitches per inch ---for exceptional durability and comfort.





Spanish brand Lorpen… is acclaimed in the tech performance sock world for its unique three layer construction…



Three natural and synthetic yarns are woven together into one to the touch layer---that wicks away moisture, spreads it out away from the skin…PLUS---added nylon textile for durability.

















It’s not a chunky sock by any means---as Lorpen’s come in various mid and lightweight technical models for skiers and snow boarders (new for 2011!!!)---with less or more cushioning, ---in super nice color waves/patterns too.























PLUS: Professional, hiking/trekking, fishing and hunting collections…all made from premium fibers including Modal, Merino Wool, Italian Wool, Primaloft® and CoolMax® FX---for daily usage to extreme conditions.





New for Spring 2011 is the high performance Tri Layer Trail Running Sock---with built-in shock absorption in a durable, comfy fit=dry, blister and debris free run (shorty height right above ankle).

Intrigued, we learned the layer closest to the skin is made of the moisture wicking CoolMax®, the middle layer made of the natural fiber Tencel that “holds” the water away from the skin---and then nylon –concentrated in the toe, heel and shin---abrasion points targeted to ensure a long lasting sock that fits. Different cushioning options available too ($10.99-$12.99).
Trail Running Ultralight-Women's

Trail Running Light-Women's

Fair Isles Knits our fav---sold in a e-pack




















Next up was a demo of the insanely amazing. A Stop Odor Elimination Technology that transfers odor into an odorless compound that survives 100 washes. The proprietary Stop Tech fibers are knit directly the socks---and will be available in four Lorpen designs.


It works---we got a demo with a vial of ammonia, talk about sinus clearing---poured on the socks…and one whiff later---the caustic smell was REALLY gone.




ALSO: Kids get their own line of Jr. Light Hiker socks ($9.99)

www.lorpen.com





Light Hiking

Design, function, technology” are the hallmarks of Dahlgren socks, founded by former pro baseball player Ron Dahlgren in 1979.

A three prong approach to moisture management is at work in all Dahlgren socks along with their exclusive use of Alpaca + ---that uses the finest naturally soft, sustainable and insulating qualities of Alpaca wool.
Running Ankle

New for Fall 2011 Running Socks


Also Dahlgren uses its Dri-Stride® technology ---that absorbs, transfers and evaporates moisture via patented Wicking Rings™ and Wicking Channels™ that literally move the wetness from the Absorption Zones in the toes and heels…up through the Evaporation Zone---made from Eco-Dri-Dahlgren’s own 100% post consumer recycled yarn.

We personally can attest to the comfort factor---as we wore our Dahlgren Expedition  ---to the knee, extra thick blanket-like socks all over Manhattan during New York Fashion Week---where we spent 12 hour days dashing around town trooping on freezing wet snowy sidewalks---to parking ourselves inside over heated runway shows. We never felt uncomfortable, foot-wise---sweaty, clammy or freezing…as clearly we smartly gave up on wearing high heels during this fashionista convergence of ten days.

And had the right socks. 

New for Fall 2011:

The new running socks with the same excellent degree of moisture management via Aplaca/insulating Merino wool and ECO-DRI™...

...and the new ultra light weight, cushion-free Camp sock for men---a fusion of performance and style.

Also new- a handsome patterned men’s Metro Tweed---that’s really thin and cushion free--- a style we can see working with dress shoes (as well as the very thin Metro style)…
Light Weight Confetti-upper left/Artist Series -upper right

SNo and Sno Comp Socks

Also new are the Sno Comp---an ultra light weight “pure performance” sock in really pretty plaid for women and performance mesh for guys…for outdoor use during colder temps.

WHAT ELSE:

An artist series of lightweight, cushion-free socks…for Fall 2011, a new limited edition collection of hiking/ski-ing/traveling ped coverings with a cheery bird and leafy/cloud scroll pattern designed by Portland, Oregon artist Dagmar Gewiese.

(Dahlgren socks typically retail from $7.95 to $19.95)