Bob Yoe, owner of Chattanooga, Tennessee-based FITS Socks, is the third-generation owner of an American Made sock dynasty. His great grandfather, Braxton Bragg Comer, built Avondale Mills in Birmingham, AL, where Yoe resides, to become one of the largest textile mills in the world during the heyday in U.S. manufacturing history.
The importance of high-quality yarns, tight-fitting heel and attention to detail is an understatement when more than 1400-plus knitting steps go into the making of a single pair of FITS socks. For Yoe, pictured above, it’s all about the attention to detail that’s key to a great fitting sock, no expenses spared.
Performance, Blood Flow, Elasticity … FITS Socks are created one-by-one to be “THE best fitting socks on the market” using patented knit technology to hug your feet with three key points of zonal differentiation and cushioning.
- Tight Toe Lock to prevent the sock from bunching in the shoe;
- Deep Heel Pocket that situates the sock around the ankle in the way that the bone of your foot would naturally fall; and
- Full Contact Cuff that fits tightly around the ankle and looser at the top, so the sock does not move or flip down the more you wear it, plus the construction improves circulation and blood flow.
I sat down with Luke Eldridge, managing partner at FITS Technologies, pictured right, and Caroline Hughes, PR account manager at Groundswell PR, last week at OR Summer Market, to learn what’s new from FITS for Spring 2019 and the intricacies of FITS sock technology.
What’s new for Spring 2019? FITS Microlight Collection—Micro Light Runner Low, Micro Light Runner Quarter and Micro Light Runner Mini Crew—shown below. It’s the perfect marriage between FITs Ultralight Socks that are breathable with no cushioning and our super light Lifestyle Socks that offer more zonal cushioning and support around the toes, ankles and heels. You have half of the volume but still have ventilation. The socks are thinner at the ankle, supportive at the arch and thicker around the heel and toe where you need the support most.
We are also launching a Washer Bag that you can zip up and put your socks into that will keep them all together and retain the quality through the wash cycle.
FITS also offers a wider spread of sizes than typically found in performance socks, from small (men’s 3.5-5.5) to extra-extra large (men’s 13-15.5).
The Tech Behind FITS Socks
Bob Yoe said to us, ‘Make the best sock you can. Spare no expense,’ and that’s what we’ve done. Compression, cushioning, real deep heel pockets … and we do a non-binding top that is very strong with a lot of stretch that no one else offers. There are 144 needles in a 3¾-inch diameter machine with a program that includes 12,000 to 17,000 steps commanding each needle in every revolution.
“When the machine starts it at the top, we do a double welted top. The machine is doing four-revolutions, then as you get down to your heel, we get real deep into the ‘Y’ of the pattern, not only deep, but we take the foreline very far back so you can count every one of the stitches and the deeper you go back, the more money you are spending. You are getting less pairs at the end of the day, so your cost per item is going up.
“As you move your way down in our knitting process, you go from four-revolutions to half-turns. In each area of the sock we have five different materials that are coming in to make the sock. So you have all these materials coming into the 144 needles in the 3¾-inch diameter area spinning around making this sock.
“Now you go down further and you get tighter into the spandex, going back fanning out and getting loose, then tighter again. The heel offers a wide gore in the toe, so your toes can move freely without tugging on the rest of the sock … and because of the volume with the “Y” pattern, it doesn’t make a difference what shape your toes are, the sock is going to fit with no extra material or fold-over so there are no hot spots. Then, the sock transfers over to a machine where all the threads are connected before the process completes. The stitching inside and outside is all being done at the same time.
“We use 18.5 micron Merino Wool anywhere you see a marling, and then in the heel and toe we use more durable yarns. This is suit-grade wool we’re putting into our socks, but stronger and more luxurious.
“FITS manufactures our own socks, and that’s why we are able to offer the BEST sock. We develop our own product and contract our manufacturing. We have our own R&D facility with all the same machines as our contractors, but we have all of our testing equipment to make sure we are getting the proper compression throughout the sock keeping the integrity of our product and not giving it to someone else to develop.
“The knitting mills we use are also Made in the USA stories. One is family owned, second generation. Our socks are knitted precisely using computer programs for each sock. In these facilities we have a lot of QC testing … elongation, stretch and longevity of the product.
“We think if the sock is going on your foot, fitting properly and you have a properly fitted shoe, FITS socks will last a lifetime. We take pride in every step of the manufacturing process, so when the socks reach our customers, they are the best fitting, most comfortable sock they’ve every worn.” — Luke Eldridge, managing partner at FITS Technologies
Photos courtesy FITS Socks