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Develop - what's new from the Alpkit Design Team

Merino and CoolMax socks

By alpjim | 30, Apr, 2009

Socks, everyone wears them. We'll nearly everyone, even in the depths of winter with snow on the ground Dan still pops into the office in his slaps. Way back when, quite by accident we stumbled upon a company not far from us with an amazing heritage of making socks. We were originally looking for someone to knit a refillable chalkball for us, we were young and innocent back then. In the following years we have spoken to numerous sock manufacturers, been out to Asia and stockpiled sample socks with Alpkit written on them but we still kept being drawn back to the guys close by.

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They have the latest kit, access to technical yarns and all the expertise you'd expect from a company capable of producing a technical outdoor sock. It was almost too easy to use them but we finally sat down and worked over some style sheets. We chatted, sketched and generally got baffled with all the different stitch patterns available. We decided to focus on a single model to start with and the Trekker was born. Developed as an all rounder you can get away with wearing this sock all year round. We didn't set out to do anything that would revolutionise the sock world. The iso wool yarns gave a durable, comfortable sock. The sculptured terry design provided padding in the right areas as well as a unique style to Alpkit which we could take forward into new styles. Nylon reinforced high wear areas increased the durability of the socks and enabled us to colour code them into pairs. This was crucial to us as we planned to sell the socks as multiple pairs to make best use of our credit card charges and postage weight bands.  

We are extremely careful at Alpkit to not only design well thought out products but also think how a product will be stored, sold, packaged and shipped. The guys in the factories finishing department couldn't believe we didn't want them to fold the socks around an elaborate card wrap and kimble several swing labels on to it before finally putting it in a plastic bag. Having worked for several years in outdoor accessories I have always been aware of just how much Point of Sale material needs to be added to product so a customer will find it on the shelves of their local outdoor shop. All this POS has to be produced then shipped to the factory, adds weight and costs to the product and all ultimately ends up at best being recycled but more often just thrown away. Being purely internet based our POS is effectively free and has no real size constraints. Even the cheapest of our products gets a well taken photo and a full description. For trekkers we just required two coloured elastic bands to keep the sets together and pack as many as you can into a large box that our warehouse guys can use to pick directly from. So what next? On the sample room floor we have several new models we are testing. If everything goes to plan these should start to be manufactured through the summer of 2009. First off the line will be a CoolMax based sock with the development name of the Aktif. A lightweight 2 season sock using an adapted sculptured terry heel and toe from the Trekker socks. It will be available in 2 lengths. The longer cut will sit just below your calf muscle. The lower cut will just cover your ankle.

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Next up we have a sock for the adrenalin generation. The Akdrenalin has been designed for mountain bikers and will be produced from CoolMax® for moisture management. We have kept the sculptured terry heel and toe as mountain bikers can spend quite a lot time walking their bikes and need a sock capable of providing cushioning when walking. The upper section has a lace guard to prevent rubbing when your cycling shoes are tighten up. The length is a little longer than an ankle sock to provide a better seal against your leg and stop pieces of grit getting into the sock and the tab will stop the sock slipping into your shoes.

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The nations love of Merino has not gone un-noticed on us and we have a few samples of Merino based socks. These yarns are quite thick in comparison to the CoolMax® yarns so we have incorporated them into a 3/4 season full on mountain sock. This has a terried knit throughout the entire foot section and half way up the length. In the Akbaa the Alpkit sculptured pattern is still present and areas of impact have further padding knitted in. We are experimenting with producing the sock as a full merino sock or a Merino / CoolMax® mix at the moment.

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