SOCKS SELECTION: FIBRES MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE
The properties of clothing fibres are vast and vary considerably from one to the next. With the array of fibres used in garments today, it can be difficult to decide which clothes will best withstand your intended use. As such, good socks designers understand the various strengths and weaknesses of materials and take this information into consideration when designing specialty legwear. To better help our customers make informed decisions, we have outlined some information about the various fibres used in socks.
Acrylic is a synthetic fibre commonly blended with wool due to its similar feel and bulk. Acrylic has good heat retention properties and is therefore frequently used in winter socks. Unlike wool, acrylic does not absorb high amounts of moisture, but rather works to wick it away. Acrylic is an economical socks fibre for applications relating to cold weather and performance activities.
Cotton is a natural plant fibre and the most commonly used fibre in clothing. A large part of its popularity is owed to its soft feel, accessibility, and natural appearance. Due to its high moisture absorption capability, cotton socks are less desirable for prolonged physical activity where excessive moisture can lead to blisters.
Nylon (aka Polyamide)
Nylon is a versatile synthetic fibre commonly found in most hosiery. Its popularity as a knitwear fibre stems from, like Spandex, its excellent stretch and shape recovery. In addition to this, Nylon fibres are strong, soft to the touch, and light weight. This makes nylon ideal for socks requiring both comfort and durability.
Polyester is a synthetic fibre commonly used for its high strength and hydrophobic properties. Like polypropylene, polyester is used in socks geared towards prolonged physical activities. A popular engineered polyester known as COOLMAX® is used in hiking and sports socks for its ability to wick moisture away from the skin. Polyester is commonly blended with natural fibres to enhance its feel.
Polypropylene (aka Olefin)
Polypropylene is a synthetic fibre used for its very unique properties. Polypropylene fibres are extremely light weight with a density of around 60% of that of other commonly used socks fibres. Also, the fibres are extremely hydrophobic, meaning that they do not absorb any water. Combined with its excellent strength properties, polypropylene is used in socks geared towards performance activities.
Rayon (aka Viscose)
Rayon is a semi-synthetic fibre made from wood fibre. It has similar breathability and strength characteristics to cotton, but displays a more silky appearance with a noticeable difference in drape and feel. Rayon’s properties make it appealing to fashion-oriented socks rather than sports legwear.
Spandex (aka Elastane or Lycra)
Spandex is a synthetic fibre known for its exceptional stretch and shape retention. An essential part of almost all socks, Spandex is commonly used in the cuff and arch to ensure a long-lasting secure fit.
Animal fibres such as wool, angora, cashmere, and mohair are desired for their thermal regulation properties. Wool fibres have the ability to absorb and lock away high amounts of moisture, making them ideal for use in hiking, running or biking socks. Combined with their exceptional ability to retain heat makes them the best choice for winter socks. Furthermore, natural chemicals found in wool make them odour resistant.