There’s a famous television show called How it’s Made, if you’ve ever sat down to an episode you know there’s something so interesting about seeing how a product you use every day is manufactured. You’d think making socks is a relatively easy process but the care and time it takes to make Socrates Custom Socks might actually be a little more than you’ve imagined.
Our Sock Creation Process
The process begins with your order. We connect you with our design consultants who walk you through each step. We consult with you until you’re 100% satisfied with the design. Then your design files are sent to the factory, complete with Pantone colours. Once your design is processed at the factory, a pair of your socks is made and our quality control team ensures your socks are perfect.
Our design process sets us apart because we guarantee your design, offer it for free, and host a team of talented artists (not graphic designers). Your custom socks are a work of art come to life. This is why our customers often point out how much they loved the process of designing them and the ease at which they can make their vision come alive. Once designed and approved for quality, we do the full run of your order, package it, ship it, and get it to you within 7 days. It may seem simple but it’s the little details along the way that really make our socks special.
One of the most interesting parts of the process of making socks is what happens on the factory floors. We control every part of your custom sock order. From the colours, to the yarn, to the machines, and the packaging, we’re in charge of every step. Because our factory is located in Castel Goffredo, “the city of socks”, we are able to access expert craftsmanship for every part of the manufacturing process.
It’s In The Materials
Our yarn is sourced from a textile company next door to our factory, giving us access to the most vibrantly coloured cotton yarn in the biz. The yarn is made from raw cotton and specially dyed using the Pantone colour coding systems so that your socks are exactly as you want them. Huge spools of raw cotton yarn run into the dying machine and are then re-spooled, dried, and taken to the factory.
Most custom sock companies make socks using sublimation, a process that inputs dye into fabrics. As Socktologists, we know the only way to really get a comfortable pair of socks that look great too is to actually weave dyed yarn together, not print onto pre-woven products. Woven socks also wear better correctly projecting the designs on the socks through wear and stretching. Ultimately, your design, logo, or brand will always look its best on a woven sock because the design itself directs the weave. Your design isn’t an afterthought, it’s literally woven into what becomes a sock!
We start with the yarn. Now specially dyed in a rainbow of Pantone colours, we match your brand colours thread by thread and load the spools into the machine. We use PMP programming to communicate the exact design to the machine and then produce that first pair of socks. This seems easy enough but each design is different which can lead to complications.
This is the reason for the first run where we can have our quality control team review the first pair.
Another important part of the process is the effort to preserve the area where the factories are located. In Italy, you are required to have a license to operate a textile factory. The entire sector is highly regulated by the government to control pollution and other environmental factors. Special precautions are taken during the dyeing steps, for example, to make sure the regulatory stringencies are met. It would be terribly ironic to worsen our carbon footprint with a sock that isn’t conscious of the environment so we value the rules and respect them.
Controlling Sock Quality
Our technicians are well versed in making sure each design comes out perfectly so when we do see issues arise we can fix them and make sure you receive exactly what you ordered or your money back. At the end of the day, our machines run on computers. We all know that sometimes the parameters of a program can just make things difficult. It’s no different when it comes to the computers that run our machines but our trusty techs have never met a problem they couldn’t fix. It’s an important part of our process that allows us to guarantee the best possible socks.
Our quality control measures stay in place until the final box in your order is sealed. We have operations supervisors who spend all day watching the orders to make sure only the best gets delivered to our customers.
The Knitting Machines
The machines themselves are made in Italy. There are two companies who specialize in manufacturing these sock machines since 1960. Each machine is approximately six feet high and three feet wide – Imagine a huge space just filled with these amazing machines, knitting away sock after sock, over 300,000 a year to be exact!
Our machines are supervised, cleaned, and maintained by trained technicians to make sure they’re always at their best. The machines can be programmed to perform a wide variety of sock types and designs. We’ve even discovered the machines can be programmed to produce other types of interesting swag and gift items like masks, golf club covers, and gloves! The possibilities are exciting! If you’ve ever seen your grandma’s sewing machine you probably understand the concept of threading the needle, turning on the machine, and watching the magic happen. These sock machines are a state of the art, much larger version, that operate on the same basic premise.
The knitting process itself happens as a plethora of needles meticulously weave the various threads of coloured yarn together through a looping process. Each sock is individually stitched to produce the best possible fit. The knitting process eliminates the need for several seams on the sock which you really want to keep at a minimum to maintain the level of comfort during wear. As we always say, your socks shouldn’t be imprinted onto your skin when you take them off and you shouldn’t be looking for them somewhere in your shoe as you run to catch an Uber.
The Perfect Custom Sock
The key to the perfect sock is the knit and the finishing touches. We wash and dry every sock once it comes off the line. This pre-shrinks the sock and stabilizes the colours so that you get a properly finished product. Once the socks are dry we shape them with heat and steam on a metal foot stretch in a process called boarding. This step smooths the appearance of the socks and gives them the right shape.
With the socks now ready to go, a final quality inspection takes place before the packaging step so that we know every pair is exactly how they should be. We take the same level of care during the packing stage ensuring the band rolls, header cards, stickers, poly bags, and more are all just as perfect as the socks themselves.
Direct To You
Once the packages are ready they are prepared for transport and shipped via UPS direct to your door. The whole process happens within five days so that by day seven you are in receipt of your custom sock order.
We guarantee fast delivery with our 7-day turnaround time so you can feel confident that your custom branded sock order is ready for your event, giveaway, or tradeshow on time. Like we’ve said, there’s more to the process than you’d think and we can’t wait to show you what the best looks like for your next order.
Manufacturing Fact: The first socks were made by hand! That’s right, socks were a painstaking process before the knitting machine was invented. Read more about it here.