Get to know a Vendor: Smartwool

By: Levi Opsatnic


In a world like the one we have at App House, it’s pretty common to see our staff often clothed in any assortment of wool products. From jackets and mid-layers all the way down to socks and undergarments, there’s a pretty good chance that we carry it and we love it.

I’ve always been a fan of all things wool. So whenever I got the opportunity for a bit of discussion with our Smartwool representative, I surely wasn’t going to pass that up. The topic, obviously, was Smartwool. However, trying to walk the “green” line when I can, the conversation barely strayed away from Smartwool’s decisions in the years of 2005 and 2010. These two dates mark the company’s decision to ensure that none of their wool suppliers practiced “mulesing” and that they would only source their wool from the New Zealand Merino Company. These guys provide some of the best wool around, are ZQ certified, and treat their sheep as they would a brother. With the ethically sourced wool being a current topic, I was pretty excited to learn this bit of information. This leads me to the point of this post, which is to dig into the history of Smartwool.

If any of you out there aren’t familiar with the many benefits of merino wool, some of its more noteworthy features are its anti-microbial properties, temperature regulation, and great wicking abilities. Being around for the past twenty years, I think that it’s safe to say that Smartwool has the merino game figured out pretty well. The company’s dedication to merino wool began in Steamboat Springs, Colorado in the year 1994 whenever Peter and Patty Duke sought out a way to increase the comfort on the slopes.


Being aware of merino wool’s performance, the Dukes immediately chose it as the main fabric used in their clothing (and still do today). Their first line of merino wool products consisted of socks for both hiking and skiing and they were an immediate hit. A couple years went by, and in the year 1996, their line expanded to include casual, running, and cycling socks. But Smartwool’s progression doesn’t stop there; the end of the 90s marked the company’s debut into the clothing industry. With this addition to their line, they were able to outfit their customers head-to-toe in the comfort of merino wool.

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Whenever you look at Smartwool today, it’s pretty apparent that they are one of the most successful merino wool companies out there. Not only do they make great wool products, but they also take an ethical approach to their company and craft all but one style of socks here in America. It’s little things like this that, when paired with the undeniable comfort of a pair of their socks, makes Smartwool a company that really shines in the outdoor world.

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