SmartWool was born with comfort in mind. The founders were New England ski instructors struggling to keep their feet warm. After trying a variety of materials, they rediscovered an age-old classic: wool. But while these socks may have been warm, they were itchy and shrank. So they worked on a process to make them soft and easy care. SmartWool was born on a simple belief: keeping feet comfortable on the slopes.
But it was a difficult sell. Try as they might, they couldn’t initially convince others of the material’s merits. No one believed that a wool sock could be anything but itchy. Out of frustration, they finally challenged people to try them. And this simple tactic changed the course of SmartWool forever and pioneered a new market transformation for wool performance products. The instant people tried them they were awestruck with SmartWool’s soft luxurious feel. They were even more surprised that their feet stayed comfortable for extended periods of time in mixed weather conditions. Instead of getting clammy, the SmartWool socks stayed dry, soft and comfortable. The founders then realized that they had to get their socks on as many people as possible to let them speak for themselves.
This created a buzz not unlike the shearing of a sheep. Magazines caught wind of the material and in 1995 Backpacker tested SmartWool against all other comers, awarding it its coveted Editors’ Choice award for best hiking sock. The company received the same honor in 1996 for its trekking socks, and won the award yet again for its new base layer line in 1998 before the first product was even shipped.
These awards catapulted SmartWool’s Extraordinary Comfort onto more and more feet and bodies. And a funny thing happened once people started trying SmartWool: word about their comfort and performance spread like wildfire. Fueling this was the company’s commitment to using only the finest wool in the world: New Zealand merino, which produce the softest, strongest and whitest wool on the planet. The company has built intimate, long-standing relationships with its growers, who are in tune with their land and sheep and have become great partners in growing the best wool possible.
The next step was obvious. Since people enjoyed SmartWool’s comfort in its performance socks and base layers, why not make socks they can wear all the time? Since hiking socks don’t go well with dress slacks, SmartWool launched its everyday-use lifestyle line in 2004, bringing extraordinary comfort to daily life with fun, fashionable designs. Both socks and apparel now enjoy worldwide distribution, satisfying the needs of walkers, runners, skiers, cyclists, climbers, hikers and anyone else who enjoys the comfort and performance the company’s founders discovered more than 10 years ago on those cold slopes of New England.