Six months after their no-compete agreement expired, SmartWool Founders Peter and Patty Duke have launched another merino wool sock company on-line.

On Tuesday, their web site featured outdoor, active, lifestyle, cycling, running, skiing and snowboarding socks priced at about 25-30% below comparable SmartWool socks. For instance, point6's trekking heavy duty crew sock was priced at $13.27, compared to $17.95 for SmartWool.

Point6 is a reference to merino wool’s ability to maintain an optimal body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Dukes say point6 uses a compact spinning process to remove more air from between the merino fibers, creating a softer, finer and more durable yarn. While other manufacturers may use small percentages of compact spun yarns in their products, point6 uses them exclusively.


Once spun, point6 merino is knit with finer gauge needles to produce more stitches per inch – and literally more merino per inch – increasing longevity and durability.

Peter Duke has taken on the title of “Founder & tribal leader,” while Patti is “Founder, creative director and Shaman.” She has designed ski hats and sweaters for Duke Designs, The North Face, Obermeyer and Descente. 

A former ski instructor who competed on the Professional Ski Instructors of America alpine team, Peter Duke served on the SIA’s board of directors and as SmartWool’s founder and CEO from 1994 to 2003, the year the Dukes sold their interest in the company to RAF Industries. Two years later, two private equity firms sold SmartWool to Timberland for $82 million, which was reportedly 10X EBITDA.

The couple's sold their remaining interest in SmartWool to RAF Industries in January 2003, when they signed a five-year, no-compete agreement that expired in January.

In addition to using naturally renewable merino wool fibers, said its direct model minimizes the need for packaging. The company plans to join 1% for the Planet.

The company will officially launch a grassroots marketing campaign at the Telluride Bluegrass festival on June 19, 2008, during which employees will give out 4,000 pairs from the back of diesel vans with “pimped-out sound systems.”

>>>Retailers should watch this venture closely. If the Dukes succeed without dealers, that could raise a lot of questions for retailers…