Smart move: Taking the itch out of warm wool socks

SmartWool was founded in 1994 by New England ski instructors Peter and Patty Duke in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, in response to having cold feet.

They tested various products before settling on wool, but while they were warm, they had to overcome the age-old problem of itchiness and shrinkage.

A process was developed and SmartWool was created but, according to their website, it required plenty of convincing before people accepted itchiness was not an issue with wool socks.

"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 company website said.

The socks have been awarded numerous prizes by outdoor magazines for their comfort and durability and as a consequence, demand has grown.

SmartWool singles out its success to using New Zealand fine wool, 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 website trumpets.

From hiking and active outdoor socks, SmartWool in 2004 launched its everyday-use lifestyle line.

SmartWool was acquired by the Timberland Company in 2005.

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