Sports Insight

Q4 - December 2018

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14 • Sports Insight ~ December 2018 Balega UltraLight (New & Improved), $13 Performance Athletic Why: Manufactured in the USA, the revamped sock features Drynamix performance yarn, a triple "Y heel" construction that expands like a fan to cup the heel for a precise fit, extended cushioning in the heel and toe areas for durability and comfort without added bulk and three levels of elastication. What's Up: "For a number of seasons, we have moved toward a combination of natural and synthetic fibers and lighter weight construction. It is all about comfort and performance at the same time. We are pushing the boundaries by making the socks so comfortable that you hardly know you are wearing them and creating innovative solutions for some of the issues athletes struggle with. Also, consumers seem to be more interested in the technical aspects of the product than ever before." — Tanya Pictor, VP–Marketing CEP Run 2.0 Compression Sock, $59.99 Performance Athletic Compression Why: Available in February 2019, the sock, which is made in the brand's own factories, features medical graduated compression to facilitate blood flow back through the veins to the heart and helps stabilize the muscles. What's Up: "Colors and designs have been the trend; however, we produce graduated compression for improved circulation and quite frankly in true compression that can be a difficult trend to compete with since we are governed by standards for medical compression production. What we have done is work with new threads and construction techniques that have made our new 2.0 products comfortable and easier to get on and off. That is not a small thing with a real compression product. Seamless toes and anatomical construction for socks are well established. Thread and construction techniques will be the greatest area of improvement in the future. Time on the knitting machine is the largest factor in costs." — Luke Rowe, Senior Vice President/General Manager Darn Tough Vermont Light Hiker Micro Crew Light Cushion Outdoor Hike/Trek Performance Why: The update of the Light Hiker, one of the brand's more popular socks, is jam packed with technology. To maximize breathability, mesh zones were added on the top of the foot to work with Flex Zones that improve fit; a new reinforced cushioning was extended over the Achilles heel for added comfort when worn in a boot; and the smooth, narrow rib – it's called 1X1 knitting – up the leg stays in place no matter how rough the trail. What's Up: "Lovers of the outdoors are seeking brands that demonstrate a commitment to be good stewards through environmental and material choices along with protection of garment workers. We see a focus on Socks, whether they're running marathons, hiking tough trails or just walking around the great outdoors, are continuing to refine themselves through technology and style. Regardless of activity, customers are demanding socks that are comfortable, form fitting, durable and versatile enough to run from the gym to the office. Customization continues to be a driving force. Some brands are even collaborating with specialty stores to create hyperlocal designs or branding products by purpose or activity to draw in customers. Advances in knitting techniques and new fibers are turning socks into superheroes for the feet — and for the environment. Here's a look at what's new for 2019. HOSIERY THE SOCK AS FOOT SOLDIER Balega UltraLight, New & Improved, $13 Brands are stepping up with high-tech styles that go the extra mile. BY NANCY A. RUHLING

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