Socks are a pretty simple commodity items, so it’s easy to buy them from overseas factories. However, America has a long history with sock manufacturing too. There are old US companies, like Fox River or Crescent Sock Co., that still employ people to make socks domestically. These socks also tend to be made of US-sourced fabrics. I’m curious why that is though. Maybe the companies want to use US materials for patriotic reasons. Maybe shipping costs eliminate any savings from importing textiles, if there are any savings to be had*. If you know or have an idea why US socks tend to use US-sourced fibers let us know in the comments below!
Of the 8 socks we reviewed from 7 different companies, the most American-made with 5/5 stars are socks from Fox River Mills. Fox River makes nearly all of their socks in Iowa, including their Everyday Men’s socks. The company is owned by two US siblings and materials come from domestic sources**, including merino wool.
Second place is a three-way tie between socks from American Apparel, Smartwool, and FITS. Each sock scores a 4.5/5. All of these socks are made in America, but from all different parts. American Apparel makes their socks in Los Angeles while Smartwool and FITS have their factories in Tennessee. These 3 socks are made of imported materials instead of US-sourced ones, keeping them from getting a perfect score.
Gold Toe’s Basic Support Sock is made in America from some US-sourced nylon. However, Gold Toe is a subsidiary of Gildan, a Canadian apparel company. The Basic Support Sock scored 2/5 stars. Not too far behind is New York based Ozone Socks. These socks are meant to bring fashion to the world of socks, and while the company is American, all manufacturing is done overseas. They get 1.5/5 stars.
Bringing up the rear are Dockers and the rest of Gold Toe’s socks. These socks scored 0.5/5 stars because most of the work on these socks is done overseas. The model Dockers uses for branding their socks is very likely the same model most brand names use when selling socks. Companies like Nike, Gap, or even Walmart sell their own branded socks, but they most likely just buy these socks from overseas factories that have already done the design and manufacturing.
A list of the socks we covered as well as a rough average per pair price is below.
Dockers – 0.5/5 stars – $4.25/pair
Gold Toe – 0.5/5 stars – $5/pair
Ozone – 1.5/5 stars – $18/pair (full range of $10 to $35)
Gold Toe Basic Support – 2/5 stars – $12/pair
American Apparel – 4.5/5 stars – $8/pair
Smartwool – 4.5/5 stars – $13/pair
FITS – 4.5/5 stars – $16/pair
Fox River - 5/5 stars – $15/pair (full range of $7 to 19)
We hope this product category shows that there are interesting stories behind lots of products, even the lowly sock! If you own any of these socks, let us know what you think about them in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
*For a very interesting 20 minute look into the global textile marketplace, I recommend this Planet Money (one of my favorite programs) podcast on the cotton war between the US and Brazil.
**Fox River imports some of their branded socks from Korea. I don’t imagine a developed country like South Korea doing lots of sock exports (although it’s possible since the US exports socks), so I wonder if these socks were being made at the now shutdown Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea.