The process of making cool novelty socks has come a long way, and new advancements in fiber blending, dyes, manufacturing and more are popping up all the time! Here, you can learn about commonly used fibers, specialty sock-making techniques, and interesting industry tidbits.
Commonly Used Sock Fibers
Bamboo fibers are taken from the natural, fast-growing plant. Bamboo is softer and more breathable than cotton and has a natural sheen to the surface, so it almost feels like silk or cashmere. Bamboo is hypoallergenic, naturally microbial and very durable, making it a luxury choice for socks. Learn more about bamboo socks and peruse our selection.
Cashmere is a fiber from the soft hair of a Cashmere goat. It provides natural, light-weight insulation with bulk and is considered a luxury fiber, mostly because of how soft and comfortable it is.
Cotton is a lightweight, moisture-absorbing fiber. It's breathable, washable and durable, so it is the most common fiber in socks. Because it is so great at absorbing moisture, it is generally blended with nylon, a nonabsorbent material, to help move moisture away from the foot.
Here are some of the specialized kinds of cotton fabric commonly used in the socks we sell:
Organic cotton is grown with non-genetically modified plants, without pesticides, and without fertilizers. This method of growing cotton is thought to allow for more biodiversity, benefitting the environment. One sock brand we carry, Zkano, specializes in organic cotton socks.
Combed cotton is treated more than standard cotton to remove short fibers and impurities. The cotton is literally combed, leaving long, straight cotton fibers only. These are wonderful for weaving fabrics because they don't fray as easily and feel softer against your skin. Generally, combed cotton is more expensive than regular cotton.
The terms elastane, Lycra and spandex all refer to the same style of synthetic fiber made from polyurethane. Spandex is the commonly used term in the U.S., which was marketed under brand name Lycra, while the term elastane is used worldwide. First produced by DuPont in 1959, the fiber has elastic properties so it is often used in place of rubber. Used with other fibers, it provides elasticity, comfort and a close fit, which makes it a common choice in socks to help them stay up and in the arch and ankle to provide extra support.
Elastic is a rubber or spandex core covered with nylon to provide extreme stretch.
Flax is one of the oldest fiber crops in the world. Flax fiber is extracted from the skin of the stem of the plant and is very soft, lustrous and flexible. It is stronger than cotton but less elastic.
Modal is a natural fiber, typically made from beech trees. It's more water-absorbent than cotton and holds on to color better.
Nylon is a very strong, versatile, hard-wearing fiber. Socks made of nylon can be thin and silky or bulky and highly elastic. Nylon is often used with other fibers in blends to give added stretch or to improve durability.
Polyester and stretch polyester are two hydrophobic (water-repelling) fibers that are known for their durability and are extremely colorfast for vivid coloration.
Rayon is a natural cellulose filament fiber known for its sheen, its soft feel, and its high moisture absorption properties. The term rayon is sometimes used as a generic term for “plant fiber.”
Rubber latex, which comes from rubber trees, is used in socks for added elasticity and stretch.
Silk is a very smooth, soft and moisture-absorbing fiber. It boasts high tensile strength and acts as a natural thermal retainer that does not conduct heat. It is woven from the cocoon material of special caterpillars.
Wool from sheep and other animals is the original easy-care fiber. Wool naturally has wrinkle resistance, colorfastness and shape recovery, and it breathes with your body. Wool socks also keep feet drier. Thanks to these properties, wool socks are great for hiking.
Merino wool is a special, It shares all of the characteristics classic to wool that are listed above. But unlike traditional wool, Merino wool does not itch and is shrink-treated to hold its size and shape even after repeated washings.