Since stealing the show at Gucci’s Resort 2018 presentation at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, the once humble sock has been transformed from wardrobe staple to fashion statement. But while the Italian house’s crystal-embellished hosiery has since influenced countless other brands to create their own status socks, those showcased by Stella McCartney at her autumn/winter show last March made waves for a very different reason – their sustainability credentials.
Crafted from 85 per cent upcycled yarn and produced without chemicals, dyes, or water, the socks accompanied each invitation to the designer’s presentation, and were produced in collaboration with OSOMTEX®. The US-based company has been repurposing textile waste to create high-quality upcycled yarns and fabrics since 2016, and like McCartney, is committed to working towards a more circular economy.
Founded by Patricia Ermecheo, the idea behind OSOMTEX® was inspired by the entrepreneur’s earlier business, which involved shipping cartons of used clothing to South America. More than selling, the purpose was to help low income communities in need of something affordable to wear. Following a year of research, she decided to focus her efforts on creating a product made of recycled yarn, as well as threads that could be sold in bulk to apparel brands, and with a $23,000 Kickstarter campaign launched Osom Brand in January 2016, manufacturing socks in fair trade factories in Guatemala.
More than 70% of the materials used to make the company’s threads and fabrics comes from upcycling more than 11 million pounds of discarded garments and textiles every year. And with a production process that uses no water, no dyes, and no harsh chemicals, it is helping to reduce the negative impact that creating new clothing and virgin fibers has on the planet.
Osom Brand has sold more than 4,000 pairs of socks globally since its launch. And the collaboration with Stella McCartney was not the first time the company has stepped into the spotlight. It follows a similar collaboration with London-based fashion brand Felder Felder; and last year it made uniforms for a BMW event in Berlin.
The company’s sustainability credentials extend far beyond its socks. Solar panels power the facility in Guatemala, where employees have fair working conditions, something that Osom Brand actively supports and encourages along the entire production chain. And at company headquarters in a rural location in Oregon, based at the tiny solar-powered house Ermecheo shares with her partner, repurposed materials are very much in evidence, as well as LED lighting, energy-efficient appliances and biodegradable faux grass on the roof. “I wanted all aspects of the business to show a commitment to sustainability,” she told Forbes.com.