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Smartwool Socks Designers


Product Director: Glenn Buchan
Glenn Buchan, SmartWool's Sock Director, has been with the company for more than 10 years and knew full well when he started there was something unique about its products. "The product was special and I wanted to be a part of that," says Buchan, a former wool retail buyer. " I knew wool was the warmest fiber around, but I also knew it was heavy and itchy. I tried all the synthetics and hated them. I was blown away when I tried the first generation of SmartWool base-layers. I knew this stuff was it." During his decade at SmartWool, he's learned that if you make a great product then people will come. And if you start with wool you're on your way to making a great product. "I've also learned how dynamic and complex a wool fiber is," he says. "It manages moisture and temperature automatically and is totally focused on keeping the wearer comfortable, even after it's been sheered offthe sheep." He also, realizes, however, that wool is difficult to work with, requiring years of design experience to maximize its performance. And that's where SmartWool has the advantage. "We did something unique by sourcing our own wool. Most companies would have had the knitters source it, but our founders wanted to ensure they had the best wool possible. This is what set us on course to becoming wool leaders. And we've all learned valuable lessons about it since we manage it from the raw state to finished goods." Buchan adds that all this has allowed SmartWool to learn about each and every aspect of the material. "We know how to stabilize the fiber, which machines work well with it, how to knit yarn from it and more," he says. While other companies have dabbled with wool here and there, we've been focused purely on it. And as a result our products are far more comfortable and offer far more performance."
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Designer Director: Mercedes Marchand

Designer Director Mercedes Marchand used to design for Ralph Lauren, but was lured over to SmartWool for it's comfortable products and commitment to the natural environment. "I think it's important to work for a company that has a strong connection with nature, and all SmartWool products are based on a natural fiber," she says. "And I love the fact that are sheep are well cared for. I really believe in what SmartWool makes and what it stands for ." Marchand's experience working with merino wool extends far beyond her tenure with SmartWool. She's worked with the fiber for more than 20 years, 16 of them with Ralph Lauren. She's also designed merino wool socks for such companies as Ann Taylor, Eddie Bauer and countless private label brands. Throughout this experience, she's traveled the world sourcing wools from Shetlands, alpacas and sheep, and has worked with everyone from sophisticated manufacturers using computerized knitting machines to those weaving socks on handlooms. But she's learned the most here at SmartWool. "I've learned more about wool here than anywhere," she says. "I thought I had a strong understanding of the fiber, but I've learned more about the importance of procuring only the finest merino wool, how subtle differences in the processes can impact it, and hwo to make product that's easy to care for." Above all else, Marchand loves making products that are functional yet soft. And that's why she loves working with SmartWool. "It lets me make a product that's more comfortable," she says. "It doesn't itch and works in a wide range of temperatures. To me it's a very holistic approach." Marchand has also been able to leverage SmartWool's unique fiber into the company's lifestyle line, giving her even more design freedom. "It's the perfect fiber for achieving extraordinary comfort," she says. "I know the fiber will keep people comfortable regardless of the temperature. Its versatility lets me design socks that apply to a person's lifestyle. The fiber keeps the user comfortable, so our designs are more versatile. And because of the playfulness of the SmartWool brand, I can bring a light-hearted approach to our designs. After all, fun is part of a happy life."
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