When we opened the HELM Boots Store in April 2013 we naturally knew we wanted to carry socks as well, but we had a hard time finding enough “Made in America” socks to build our fantasy. We knew it would be a challenge because, like a lot of US Manufacturing, the sock industry has seen a rapid decline over the last 20 years. At the time, we were only able to find Zkano from Alabama and Two Feet Ahead from Georgia. Zkano is made in Fort Payne, AL AKA the former “Sock Capital of the World” and now has a story familiar to many towns once known for manufacturing. This excerpt from the Huntsville (AL) Times:
“At the turn of the 21st century, about 8,000 people worked at the 125 hosiery mills in Fort Payne, by the estimate of DeKalb County Economic Development Authority Director Jimmy Durham. Today, said Durham, the 20 or so remaining mills employ about 600, a staggering decline for a town whose economy has long relied on sock production. The most recent departure was Gildan-Prewett, which announced in February that it was closing its four mills here and transferring production to Honduras.”
It’s a sad story and one that has been all too familiar the last few years BUT recently we have noticed that, at least with socks, that trend may be turning slightly. In just the last 8 months we have added three sock lines to our inventory: American Trench, Richer/Poorer and Sock Club (all produced in North Carolina).
Our sock wall hasn’t reached the size of our dreams quite yet but it’s growing quickly and that makes us very happy.
Richer/Poorer– Los Angeles, CA based sock company. Designs based on thrift store finds and old photos.
American Trench– Pennsylvania-based menswear. Formed when they wanted a perfect US-Made trench coat. Expanded into socks
Zkano– Fort Payne AL hosiery company. Family-owned for over 30 years
Two Feet Ahead– Super old family owned hosiery company in Atlanta GA. We can’t keep them in stock.
Sock Club– Austin, TX sock of the month club. We carry a selection of designs in our retail store.