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When you search “fleece” on our site, mostly you see variations of polar fleece and fleece-lined, but there are two outliers that are actually informative.
The fiber content for the Nuova Ribbed Wool Midcalf explains that they’re made from “one of the rarest and finest grades of Alpaca fleece.” And the New Zealand Sleepy Sheep Bedsock mentions the fleece-y coats of sheep. See, polar fleece was designed to mimic the insulating properties of natural fleece (the wooly coat of sheep and other fiber animals), which it does—right down to retaining its insulating (read: warm-making) powers when wet.
Similar to Dupont’s choice to not trademark the word “nylons”, the inventor of polar fleece declined to patent it, an action that encouraged the proliferation and acceptance of this new fabric. I’m sure the totally snuggly aspects of polar fleece helped too.
I mean, just look at how snuggly the Jellybean Fleece Slipper Socks are!
Lately, we’ve been seeing more and more “fleece” styles pop up. Most are polar fleece (or have the same qualities), but some aren’t quite. One of the definitive aspects of fleece (animal, polar or colloquial), is a woolly nap or pile. And both those words are just fancy fabric terms for a raised surface. Corduroy, velvet terry, all those touchable textures involve a distinctive fuzzy finish. Which, all of our “fleece” styles have.
Now, if that fuzzy finish is actually fleece-y or something else is another thing. Like a lot of accessory and clothing descriptors, like “crochet”, “fleece” can be used a little willy-nilly but is internally consistent in definition. So let’s look at what we mean when we say “fleece.”
Coolmax® is a synthetic fiber, constructed to provide more breathability than cotton while also encouraging moisture to wick away, keeping you cool and fresh. And yes, Coolmax® is a registered trademark, so you’ll see that little “R” after we use it. There’s another confession Coolmax® has to make to you—it’s a kind of polyester. But don’t panic! Polyester and other synthetic fibers have come a long way from those sweaty, shiny fabrics some of you may know from thrift stores and some of us may remember from when they were the next big thing in fabric.
You’ll find our Coolmax® selections gathered together in our Sport Socks collection. Though fantastic for everyday use, Coolmax®’s unique properties make it especially good for sports. Not only does it wick moisture away from the skin, it spreads it throughout the sock, which helps speed up evaporation. And while it does this, the fabric stays breathable, allowing air to move and keep you cool and dry. A beautiful (okay, nerdy to call it that, but it is!) example of this are the Injinji Performance Liner Crew Toe Sock and Performance Liner Anklet Toe Sock.
As a friend of mine found out recently, those five-toe running shoes don’t always breathe that well and sweat plus friction equals painful chafing and blisters. But that kind of shoe fits snugly so there can’t be too much sock. The Injinji Performance Liners are super thin and 75% Coolmax® fiber, just enough to fit between foot and shoe so they can wick away that trouble-causing sweat.
If you are trying to be eco-conscious in your fiber choice, then there’s a Coolmax® for you and another fiber and sport sock style you might be interested in. Don’t sweat it, we’ll tell you after the jump! Read more »
Two of the cutest fiber animals are angora rabbits and alpacas. They’re both sweet-faced mop tops whose coats make for cozy cold weather wear. I find most wool super itchy, but both angora and alpaca are soft and sensitive enough that they’re welcome additions to my sock and warmer wardrobe and to our special collections of both Alpaca and Angora styles.
Angora rabbits are distinctly fuzzy, a result of the lightness of the fiber that makes up their coats. Soft and silky, the fiber has a fluffy halo that works with hollow fibers to create the ultimate thermal wool. Because it doesn’t have much elasticity it is most often mixed in small amounts with other wools, imparting its softness in a beautiful blend. I also like to think that their natural cuteness gets passed on to the wearer with the wool.
More like hair than wool, Alpaca fleece is strong and lightweight, making it perfect for technical applications. It’s also lanolin-free, making it hypoallergenic. Like angora, it has partially hollow fibers that add to its already impressive thermal abilities, even when wet. I think it’s an added bonus that such a serious, business-like fiber comes from one of the most goofy animals.
Here at Sock Dreams we’ve got some amazing options in both fibers, from sport-ready anklets to crazy cozy legwarmers. After the jump I list a few, and you may be surprised what styles are hiding one of these lovely luxury fibers!
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