Touring Swiftwick's Tennessee Factory

As customers increasingly consider the sourcing and manufacturing of products, some brands are taking advantage of this interest, showing where their gear and apparel came from, how it was made, and who performed the work.

Swiftwick, maker of compression socks for running, hiking, skiing, biking, and other outdoor sports, offers up the following video to showcase its domestic production. In it Mark Cleveland, president of Swiftwick, gives a short walking tour of the Tennessee factory where all Swiftwick socks are made.

Does seeing where, how, and by whom products are made make a difference to your buying decisions? Does it change your perception of a company?

Tell us below.


Filed under: Gear News

Comments

Callahan
255 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts
March 13, 2012 at 11:36 a.m. (EDT)

my feet liked watching that

300winmag
508 reviewer rep
287 forum posts
March 13, 2012 at 1:31 p.m. (EDT)

Good article & video. Can we see Thor-Lo's factory too? They're my favs.

Cleric
73 reviewer rep
303 forum posts
March 13, 2012 at 3:32 p.m. (EDT)

Very cool... very noisy... but very cool!

Pathloser
52 reviewer rep
312 forum posts
March 13, 2012 at 6:44 p.m. (EDT)

I confess to being a 'how it's made' fan of those kind of videos, and I don't just mean the one where they make donuts.

The only gear videos I remember seeing, where a company lets you see the things being assembled, are the ones by Deuter (and you actually see the workers busy building backpacks). I suppose outsourcing to Asia means that it could be a different factory every six months?

I think Seth or Alicia should do some factory tours of the US companies that are still manufacturing their own stuff.

;-)

Now I have to find out what compression socks are. If they're just tight socks, then I have made some of them myself, already. Never heard of that brand "Swiftwick" - Teko are the only US-made socks I've seen in the UK.

Alicia
TRAILSPACE STAFF
715 reviewer rep
3,165 forum posts
March 13, 2012 at 7:27 p.m. (EDT)

Pathloser said:

I think Seth or Alicia should do some factory tours of the US companies that are still manufacturing their own stuff.

;-)

That would be an awesome road trip/Trailspace series. It would be like some outdoor gear reality show. We'd just need some funding, a professional videographer, time to drive around...

300winmag is right about Thorlos, which are made in North Carolina. I found this video "Thorlos Heart And Soul : An American Brand" the company put out a couple years ago:

Also, Crescent Sock Co has been knitting socks in Niota, Tennessee, since 1902. You may have their socks on your feet under another brand name and not even know it. A few years ago they started selling their own socks under the name FITS Socks and are worth checking out. I've tried some samples that worked well.

There's more of these companies out there than people realize. Socks alone have quite a number of American-made options.

There's also, Teko (mentioned above), Point6 (started by SmartWool's founders), Darn Tough (made in Vermont, I've wanted to go to their factory for a while), Fox River, and I'm sure I'm missing some others.

It's interesting to hear from our international friends which American-made brands they find at home.

JasonLooseArrow
0 reviewer rep
40 forum posts
March 15, 2012 at 2:10 a.m. (EDT)

That was very cool. If I did a video about making sleeping bags, it would be me swearing at myself while wearing an old T-shirt and a kilt. Not something anyone wants to see.

Pathloser
52 reviewer rep
312 forum posts
March 15, 2012 at 5:31 a.m. (EDT)

What about Wigwam socks? I have a pair somewhere.* Are they still available in gear shops? I haven't seen them lately in the UK.

I have one pair of Thorlo's, about 15 years old now, that are still going strong. The only reason I have never bought another pair is due to the high acrylic content (probably why they last so long).

UK made socks: Bridgedale - they combine a nice percentage of wool/synthetic, though not enough merino/small micron wool, in my opinion. I am also trying a pair of locally-made nylon and kid mohair, which look to have been made on an older sock machine.

So, to answer the original question, "Yes, seeing where, why and by whom..." would definitely influence my choice. The irony is, sock manufacturing may be the last outdoor-related industry to pull out (along with their German-, Japanese-made machines?) of the Anglo-American countries.

If that ever happens, I may decide to make my own - it cannot be that hard? Remember the eighties, with home knitting machines? Fleabay must be full of those kinds of things. Wake up K-TEL! Bring us a Sock-o-Matic, now!

*There's a place, somewhere, where socks go. Area 51? Who knows? I have already lost a sock from a pair that I received in December. You can't explain that.

Alicia
TRAILSPACE STAFF
715 reviewer rep
3,165 forum posts
March 15, 2012 at 9:50 p.m. (EDT)

Pathloser said:

What about Wigwam socks? I have a pair somewhere.* Are they still available in gear shops? I haven't seen them lately in the UK.

 Yes, they're available and U.S. made. I knew I'd miss some. Socks seem to have a good hold on domestic production.

Wigwam Mills, Inc. is proud to knit its socks in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, U.S.A.,  just for you because we care.

http://www.wigwam.com/AboutUs.aspx

Vhoyt
0 reviewer rep
1 forum posts
March 18, 2012 at 9:25 p.m. (EDT)

Sorry. This one left me cold. Does anyone work there?! Lots of fancy machines, no employees. I won't get on a soap box here, but it's worth considering both sides of the US vs Non-US issue.

GIjoehiker
0 reviewer rep
17 forum posts
March 22, 2012 at 7:25 a.m. (EDT)

I always try and buy Made in USA. I will pay more to keep someone in our country employed vs sending my money overseas. My 2 cents

OhSoCheesy
0 reviewer rep
2 forum posts
March 22, 2012 at 8:53 p.m. (EDT)

It absolutely makes a difference to me. I agree with GIjoehiker. We need to buy American and seeing how and by whom these products are made helps me with my purchasing.  Thanks Alicia for the extra list and video. Great stuff!

Alicia
TRAILSPACE STAFF
715 reviewer rep
3,165 forum posts
March 23, 2012 at 6:38 a.m. (EDT)

Thanks for all the comments. Glad to hear you found it interesting.

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