Active apparel manufacturer Smartwool announced the launch of the ‘Second Cut’ hiking sock, its first circular sock made from old, discarded socks sent in by customers.
Smartwool intends to shift its business towards a circular model by collecting materials for repurpose and reuse.
The brand initiated a take back program in April 2021, collecting more than 725,000 socks and diverting over 54,000 pounds of socks from landfills. To send in old socks for recycling, customers can add a pre-paid bag to their cart when checking out on the website.
The repurposed, respun yarns from the collected socks are blended with “responsibly sourced” Merino wool and designed with an elastic arch as well as a seamless toe to ensure comfort, as stated in the official release.
The process was developed and refined in collaboration with Material Return, a circularity-specialised manufacturer in North Carolina.
Director of product development at Smartwool, John Ramsey, said: “We were able to accomplish this through new and innovative technology, team collaboration, and consumer participation. Investing in this process has enabled Smartwool to take leaps forward toward our goal of shifting towards a more circular business model.”
As only 14 percent of textiles are recycled, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with socks being one of the most discarded pieces, Smartwool intends to push the elimination of apparel textile waste by initiating this take back program and actively including consumers as part of the solution.
The first product that implemented the customer donations was Smartwool’s Second Cut K9 Cushion, a bed for dogs with repurposed socks as filling material.
The Second Cut Hike sock is currently available for purchase on the brand’s webshop.