Farm to Feet™ is committed to the single, simple goal of creating the world’s best wool socks for hiking, skiing and sports while having as little impact on the environment as possible. One part of the brand’s recipe for sustainability uses all-American materials, manufacturing, and workers. With its supply chain completely within the US, Farm to Feet is able to ensure the highest quality materials and end products. Farm to Feet was launched in 2013 by Nester Hosiery, a leading U.S. manufacturer of performance merino wool socks.
Nester Hosiery has been highly involved with the development of the Higg Index and the first sock manufacturer to submit a facility self-assessment to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index in 2012. The Higg Index tool has allowed Nester to both assess and to obtain insights on areas for improvement in operational sustainability. For example, these insights have helped them reduce their solid waste by 35% over the past four years.
Not only are the materials for Farm to Feet socks sourced entirely from its U.S. supply chain, but they go one step further and source all of their packaging and point-of-sale displays domestically – making Farm to Feet 100% American. Nester Hosiery employs nearly 200 people in its Mount Airy, NC facility where it operates state-of-the-art knitting, finishing, and packaging equipment to make socks for the world’s toughest critics.
The Farm to Feet socks are made using US-grown merino wool, and American-made nylon and spandex. Merino wool is a durable fiber that keeps the user warm and breaths well to keep the user dry. Nylon and Spandex are critical components of a great pair of performance socks. Nylon is important for providing structure, durability, and reinforcing high impact areas like the heel and toe. Spandex is essential for providing stretch and ensuring the perfect fit from the welt through the toe.
Once the wool is delivered from western states to the East coast all manufacturing, finishing, and packaging takes place within about 300 miles. Along with a small transportation footprint the socks are knit in a mill that is driven by sustainability.
Nester has also recently become the first US sock manufacturer to join the bluesign system. As a bluesign system facility, Nester Hosiery has the ability to produce bluesign certified products, whereby all steps in the process needs to be done in bluesign certified facilities with bluesign certified materials. The bluesign certification process took more than a year where the company proved its ability to implement bluesign's stringent criteria for environment protection, occupational health and safety as well as for consumer safety.
Over the past five years, Nester has reduced its water and energy usage through the implementation of steam tumblers (reduced washing and drying steps, time, water, and energy), dumpster dive initiatives, and a proprietary software built from the bottom up to track materials, processes, manufacturing, and shipping.
Farm to Feet uses Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper for its packaging. The FSC logo is printed on all of the new packaging, which is smaller, allowing cases to be packed more efficiently, which helps reduce transportation emissions, while also using less paper. Some of the new packaging is already in stores, and the company will continue to transition away from the larger old packaging throughout 2018. Furthermore, Farm to Feet requires all packaging suppliers to use vegetable-based inks.
A benefit of sourcing textiles from the US is the federal and local regulations that are in place to help protect company employees and the environment. Most industrial manufacturers that are dyeing textiles are required to have their own waste water treatment plants to clean any outputs before it enters a municipality’s system. To help ensure that Farm to Feet are using dyes, softeners and finishes that are safe for workers, the planet and consumers. Suppliers are required to comply with the bluesign system.
Farm to Feet’s wool is supplied from American Sheep Industry Association member ranches. The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), along with its member farmers and ranchers, promote and encourage the training of proper sheep handling and shearing. ASI provides its members with the Sheep Care Guide, an educational document for proper care, handling and management of sheep as an industry standard for sheep care. ASI also sponsors training for sheep shearers and provides educational material on proper shearing techniques.
Farm to Feet uses merino wool that is grown by American Sheep Industry ranchers and after shearing, it is processed into clean wool top by Chargeurs Wool in Jamestown, SC. From there, the wool is spun into yarn by spinners such as Kent Wool in Pickens, SC and National Spinning in Burlington, NC. After spinning, the yarn arrives at Nester’s sustainability-focused manufacturing facility in Mt. Airy, NC and knit into socks. It doesn’t get much better than that to go from the Farm to Feet™.
The Farm to Feet brand understands that in order to fully appreciate the world’s best American-made socks one must have outdoor places to use them in. As a proud member of the Conservation Alliance, Farm to Feet supports and funds the organizations to protect wild places for their habitat and recreation values and it also works closely with other organizations in support of efforts to ensure that future generations can enjoy the outdoors.
All Farm to Feet products are guaranteed for life and if customers are not completely satisfied with the durability or performance of their Farm to Feet socks, they can return them and request either a replacement pair or a refund with proof of purchase from an authorized retailer. All returned socks are recycled, which fits well with the other sustainable practices at the company.