Product reviews/10/23/2023

ISPO Award Winner 2023: Smartwool Second Cut Hike Socks

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Smartwool Second Cut Hike Socks are created using recycled yarn made from old socks. Yet, they offer the performance of a brand-new sock made from virgin material and set an example against waste and landfill in the outdoor fashion industry.

In 1994 Smartwool invented their first-ever Merino wool performance sock, the Classic Hike. Now, that sock comes full circle with The Second Cut™ Hike sock. It combines the iconic fit and feel of the original sock with a circular yarn utilized from the brand’s sock take-back program. In surveying their customers, the brand found, that there is a need for a recycling program for socks. Hence, the brand invested in finding a solution, rather than downcycling collected textiles at the end of their lifecycle. While the brand started out by creating a dog cushion from the material they collected and kept out of the landfill, Smartwool has now managed to create new socks out of old socks. 

The Second Cut™ Hike Socks are the manufacturer’s first circular socks, made with repurposed yarn from Smartwool's Second Cut™ sock take-back program. Here, the brand cooperates with the circularity manufacturing facility, Material Return.


Signal Against Wasting Resources

An attempt at closing the loop and keeping material from old socks in the production cycle is not only a push to not waste resources but also to address the fashion industry’s waste problem. With only 12% of clothing materials recycled globally, socks are one of the most thrown-away pieces of apparel. The Second Cut project highlights not only a really innovative concept but also Smartwool's shift toward a circular business model, which involves collecting and repurposing materials for deconstruction and reuse. »With the relaunch of our Second Cut Project, we are one step closer towards achieving our 100% circularity pledge by 2030,« said Alicia Chin, Sustainability & Social Impact Director, Smartwool.

Smartwool’s Second Cut™ Hike Socks are made from repurposed yarn
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Including Customers to Reduce Waste

"We are committed to finding innovative ways of manufacturing to limit our impact on the environment, and the Second Cut Project allows consumers to aid in our progress by visiting our retail partners to recycle their socks," Alicia Chin explains. 

The project includes customers in the take-back program and caters to their need for involvement as well as a more eco-friendly option when buying new outdoor socks. In addressing textile waste and educating customers, consumers also end up empowered and engaged to be part of the solution. The Second Cut Project and socks show that brands and consumers can – and should – work together to reduce environmental impact.


Bob Carswell with recycled yarn from Smartwool’s Second Cut Project
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Second Cut Socks: Made From Old Socks and ZQ-certified Merino Wool

The wool used in the socks is responsibly sourced, ZQ-certified merino wool. The rest of the fiber comes from 2nd cut material/sock waste. For this, worn-through socks that would usually end up in landfill, are collected and then ground up into shoddy. From there, shoddy is blended with merino wool and spun into yarn. Designed with an elastic arch and a seamless toe for more comfort, the same performance as using virgin materials is achieved.

Fibre grind from recycled socks
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Smartwool Take-Back Program: Over One Million Old Socks Collected

The take-back program involves both consumers as well as participating retail partners: Kicked off in retail, consumers can give back their worn socks there. Participants can also send in old socks for recycling by selecting a free mail-in bag on All brands, sizes, colours, and materials of unwanted socks are welcome. They should be single socks, so not rolled up or paired. Smartwool has collected over 1 million socks and counting to keep good materials out of landfills and give old products new life.

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How Smartwool creates new from old socks
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Here’s What the Jury Had to Say About Second Cut Hike Socks From Smartwool:

"With the Second Cut Hike Sock Smartwool impressively demonstrates that worn-out socks are more than disposable items. An ambitious, innovative project, and thus an important signal to close the loop in outdoor clothing and turn old into new instead of creating waste."
ISPO Award Jury

5 Reasons Why the Second Cut Hike Socks From Smartwool Convinced the ISPO Award Jury:

  • odor-free and anti-bacterial
  • good moisture management & quick to dry
  • using recycled material made from old socks
  • same comfort and performance compared to virgin materials
  • eco-friendly, circular product

Product Specs

  • Colours: Mist Blue, Light Gray (Men) & Twilight Blue, Purple Iris (Women)
  • Material: 
    • 33% ZQ-certified merino wool
    • 33% mixed fibers: 2nd Cut material/sock waste, composed of canisters waste from production & returned socks
    • 9% Nylon
    • 24% Recycled Nylon
    • 1% Elastane
  • RRP: € 24.95
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