Thorlos : An American Brand

Title:  Thorlos: An American Brand Story

Thorlos are made in Statesville, North Carolina and always will be made in North Carolina. The vast majority of all hosiery sold in the United States at one time was made within 50 miles of Statesville.  The only reason the hosiery industry is down in the United States is because they (other manufacturers) thought in terms of volume and low price.  THORLO thinks in terms of quality and value.  We buy the best tools, the best raw materials, the best machinery, the best needles, the best parts and the best of everything that we can buy because if you want to make the best, and to be the best, you have to have the best raw materials.  And of course, the most important raw material of all…are the people themselves.

These people were born and raised in North Carolina.  Their value system is about craftsmanship.  I believe their caring gets translated into the product itself somehow or another.  A lot of the culture that I’m talking about can only happen in a small-town, rural environment.   I don’t believe that a caring culture can be produced in an environment where volume and profitability are driving everything.    There are millions of people around the world that won’t wear anything but Thorlos and that’s why they will only be made in North Carolina--because I don’t believe anywhere else in the world they could be made with the care that is required to create the experience.  I don’t believe this culture can be reproduced in a foreign country. 

It started as my father’s life philosophy.  His belief was that if you are not the acknowledged best at something that your life had been wasted, and his idea was to make the best product--a product that people would talk about and by word of mouth would tell others about. In fact, that was our reputation as greige goods knitters – when we didn’t finish socks or have a brand or anything -- that we made the best socks, high quality socks.  And then when Thorlos actually came about,  I wanted to build a brand. What I was doing was taking the best product, the best-made product and putting it in the field (stores) and put a name on it so people could say: “I want that sock (Thorlos) by name. Over a period of 10 years, we came to realize that the value that consumers were getting was more than getting the best product, it was more than a sock, and it just unfolded from there into what it is today.  We make socks, but we sell foot health (foot protection).

Thorlos is a functionally designed engineered product, engineered for foot protection and mass customized for each shoe and for each activity.  That’s what technically makes Thorlos different from any other sock company.  The synthetic fiber that we use in our product has been proven, through peer-reviewed published research in medical journals, that inside a shoe this man-made synthetic fiber called acrylic is the best fiber for your body (feet) and for protecting your feet from the shoes.  It manages moisture better, its resiliency is better--all kinds of benefits.  All kinds of socks (manufacturers) that I know of make all kinds of satisfaction guarantees, wear guarantees.  We simply say your feet will feel better or your money back.

Who benefits the most from wearing Thorlos?  The person who’s wearing Thorlos!  The benefits are profound comfort for pennies a day.  The people who are loyal do not think of buying Thorlos, they think of investing in the quality of their life.  They think of it as an investment because it (Thorlos) lasts a long time and they are getting a lot of benefit from it. They are able to do things that they couldn’t do for the last 10 years; now that they have found Thorlos, they can do those things again.  So from that point of view, it’s (Thorlos) really an investment in your own health, in your own activity…you are able to be more active.  Not counting the enjoyment of activity, which I think is even more highly qualitative than the activity itself. I mean if I’m walking or running and I’ve got blisters and I’m hating it and I’ve still got the willpower to run that’s one thing. But if I’m really enjoying the run, that’s something else. This protection for your feet long term, for a nickel a day, I don’t know what could be a better investment and what would be a better return on your investment than that.

The price of the socks has very little to do with the value to a person who has been wearing them for 25 years and has been able to play as much tennis as they did 25 years ago without blisters.  Value is never what you pay for anything; it’s what you pay for it, but it’s also how much you get from it. What the folks that have been wearing them (Thorlos) for years must be getting is what we believe--we have talked to hundreds of them--and what they tell us is that it’s enhancing their lives to the point that it is MORE LIFE.  They are getting more activity and MORE LIFE from that.  At some point in your life, whether you were active today or not, (Thorlos) will definitely have an impact on the quality of your life.  If a runner can run longer, better, safer, and enjoy the run after the run and not be hurting the next morning, that means MORE LIFE to a runner.

We get letters all the time and emails from people 70 years old who are still playing tennis only because they found Thorlos.  In trying to be the best, striving to be the best and most protective athletic sock,  we backed into an actual artificial simulation, if you will, of nature’s fat pads (on the bottom of the foot). We believe if you wear these socks (Thorlos) with this dense fabric (engineered, variable-density padding) in them all of your life, your fat pads (on the bottom of your feet) would never break down. We believe if your fat pads have already broken down,  (Thorlos) will make up for the natural loss you experience in your fat pads as you age  --so you are not walking on skin on bone. 

It’s really amazing what stories we get from consumers about how they can operate or how their mobility is enhanced.  It’s (Thorlos) not just a sock or an “after-the-fact” accessory, something that you purchased to make your feet or your body look good.  This (Thorlos) is about making your feet and your body feel good.