We didn’t always make our socks in Italy. In fact, our very first production in 2014 was in China (we went through three different manufacturers during the next year). By spring 2016 we decided to move our manufacturing and elevate our brand as a premium product in the process. We weren’t getting what we needed from the factories we were using and something had to give.
So, how did we find a new manufacturer? It’s really just like the old saying, “you have to have a lot of ideas to have a good one.” The same rings true for finding a good manufacturer. We went through a lot of different options before we found a small factory in Italy who could make our product and become a long-term partner for us. We initially launched a premium “Made in Italy” collection to test the waters, and thankfully our customers responded positively to this new direction. Fast forward and we have made hundreds of designs and have gone on a number of factory tours. We now have very strong relationships with four different factories in Italy.
But, you could make your own socks, right?
I have gone to a number of factory visits and have seen the specialization, generational talent, and infrastructure needed to make a product like ours first-hand. Not to mention that we use four different types of machines (needle count). It would take an incredible amount of investment to build a factory that could handle our current production volume. We would also still have to import all the yarn which doesn’t even build a case for it being better for the environment.
Why don't you make your socks somewhere in Canada?
We actually tried. Back in 2016 we had reached out and recieved quotes from a factory in Quebec. The cost was far too high and the machines simply didn’t make the quality of product we were looking for. They also would not give us access to the yarns we wanted to use. I would have to have made a lower quality product and charge our customers double for it... There was no business case to do this.
There’s another part of this answer that I’ll use an analogy for. (note: this is a quick analogy I whipped up and is only to highlight my point). Let’s say you lived in South Africa and let’s also say you tried Maple Syrup for the first time. If you only had access to maple syrup in large quantities, you could start a business! So, would you buy seeds to grow trees? Or, would you go to where it’s been made for over 100 years. A place that had a reputation for making the very best maple syrup in the world. If it made business sense, sure, that’s a different story. In our case though, we can get the absolute best product by working with and supporting small factories in Italy who have been making socks for generations.
How does our decision to make socks offshore impact your local economy?
It impacts our local economy in an incredibly positive way. We have 4 employees, give back to charitable causes in our community (and beyond), and most importantly - we’re able to scale our company to a size that will continue to allow us to grow and contribute.
How does it impact the environment?
Another analogy. This time you own a Pyjama (PJ) company in Vancouver, and your PJ's are made in Toronto. Great, the PJ’s are made in Canada, but the fabric will most certainly be imported (let’s say from Asia). So, fabric goes on a journey from Asia to Toronto, the PJ's are made and get sent to you in Vancouver. Two trips. In our case, our manufacturers are super close to the materials used in production. When our product is made it is sent directly to us. One trip. There are so many scenarios, but just because a product is made in Canada it doesn’t mean it is any better for the environment. Sometimes it is, sometimes it actually isn’t. Note: There are a lot of different scenarios. This is only to highlight a perception.
I have to be honest here... Even if we could make our product in Canada, we probably still wouldn’t. We have gotten to know the people who make our socks. They are small business owners. They have families and employees to support and you know what? They make incredible socks. Why would we stop supporting them?
We get it. As a consumer it’s important to know where your clothing is coming from. It’s important to know that sustainable/quality material is being used, and that the people who make the products are being treated ethically. You should also consider the environment impact as part of your buying decision. We fully support this thinking and wish everyone had the same considerations. We just thought it was important to let you know why we do what we do, and why it makes sense for us.