Today’s consumers have many options, which means that you–as a retailer–need to provide numerous choices. Still, how can you position bamboo, particularly against wool and cotton, those two fabrics that have been delighting tootsies since Eli Whitney fired up the first cotton gin? Rest assured, retailer, we’ve got you covered. In this post–The Retailer’s Guide to Bamboo Socks–we will examine where bamboo fits in a marketplace with more options than ever.
At the end of this article, you’ll know how to position bamboo socks and what types of customers are likely to sing its praises. And also–because merchandising is just as much about knowing what not to recommend, we’ll take a look at a few use cases where you might want to recommend something besides bamboo. Unless, of course, you’re talking to a panda bear.
Bamboo is Sustainable
Bamboo has several features that make it an excellent choice; however, there’s no denying that if someone comes into your store and asks about bamboo, that’s likely a signal that they’re looking to improve their environmental footprint–no pun intended. And for that, bamboo socks are ideal.
Bamboo is a more sustainable crop than cotton, making it planet-friendly. In fact, Bamboo plants are “regenerating,” meaning that they reproduce each year without replanting. These incredible canes can grow just about anywhere under various weather and climate conditions and require only a third of the water needed by cotton crops.
Since bamboo plants grow like weeds, there is little need for pesticides and fertilizers. Crops are grown without these toxic substances, and the resulting fabric wears well on any user–especially those with sensitive skin, including children and the elderly.
Of course, the sustainability of all fabrics depends on various factors. Still, there’s no denying that because bamboo is readily available, quickly regenerating, and Earth-and farm-friendly, retailers can confidently recommend it to climate-conscious consumers.
73% Rayon From Bamboo
Socksmith’s source for our bamboo material is certified by OCIA, making it completely safe for your body.
OEKO-TEX Standard 100 tests for regulated and non-regulated substances suspected of being dangerous to human health. Every pair of our bamboo socks is OEKO-TEK Standard 100 certified, meaning there are no harmful chemicals present by the time you put them on.
Perfect for Active (Read: Sweaty!) Consumers
Quick question: When’s the best time to push bamboo? Answer: In the dog days of summer.
Let’s face it–how you feel about a given sock is not only about its appearance but also who is wearing it and for what purpose. In the case of bamboo, you’ll want to push it hard when the weather turns warm for active folks who deal with sweaty feet.
One of bamboo’s main benefits is its ability to wick moisture away from wearers’ skin. When skin stays damp for too long, it can become irritated. Keeping skin clean and dry is not just about comfort. When exposed to excessive moisture, skin eventually softens, swells, and becomes wrinkled, making skin more susceptible to damage from friction, surface irritants, bacteria, and microorganisms. To be healthy and strong, skin must remain clean and dry.
Many of the materials used for clothing are actually moisture absorbing rather than moisture wicking. Understanding these two properties helps us to realize why bamboo is the best material to keep you dry.
Absorbent materials are made with fibers arranged so they naturally tend to absorb and hold moisture. Common examples of these fabric types include cotton, modal, micro-modal, and other viscose-based cloths. These are composed mainly of plant cellulose fibers, whose main purpose is to suck up moisture.
Materials that wick moisture away are made with fibers structured to repel moisture and stop absorption. Common wicking materials include synthetic polyester and nylon, and of course, natural bamboo. You may wonder why bamboo–a plant–does not absorb moisture. The answer is complex, if not downright magical. Bamboo does absorb moisture, but its fibers do not trap it! This tendency is what makes bamboo so extraordinary.
Bamboo readily absorbs pigment, making it easily dye-able and colorfast. As easily as bamboo accepts dye, it wicks away sweat to keep feet comfortable, dry, and odor free. The fabric is naturally anti-allergenic and incredibly soft–comparable to luxurious Egyptian cotton.
The natural heat-regulating properties of bamboo socks keep feet cool even when the weather gets hot. Bamboo’s breathable and moisture-wicking nature keeps wearers comfortable on the hottest days. Pay attention to what more athletes from marathon runners to triathletes, are wearing not just for socks but for jerseys. Increasingly, they’re turning to products like bamboo.
All of this goes to say that bamboo fabrics will keep folks cooler than cotton alternatives. When you’re a retailer, it makes sense to highlight specific products when they’re easier to sell. So once it’s summertime, it’s time to promote the possibilities of bamboo!
"...double the warmth for your customers and twice the revenue for you.”
In Winter Time, It’s All About the Layers
If your store is in Florida, you probably read the last section and dragged your bamboo display to the front of your store (smart!). But if you’re dealing with ski bums in Colorado, that doesn’t mean bamboo doesn’t have a place in your merchandising quiver.
Many of the same heat-regulating qualities that make bamboo perfect for hot days will also come in handy when consumers are looking for a nice moisture-wicking layer to put under more bulky products. If there’s anything better than selling one pair of socks, it’s selling two; and in colder regions, bamboo is the perfect yin to wool’s yang. Team them up for double the warmth for your customers and twice the revenue for you.
Another word about wool–not everyone enjoys wearing it. By its nature, wool has a texture that some describe as scratchy. In addition, some wearers are allergic to wool, making them unable to wear it next to their skin. Bamboo has a silky feel, making it perfect to layer under fabrics that might otherwise be uncomfortable, irritating, or unwearable.
Many shoppers, especially those in their 20’s and 30’s, actively seek out environmentally-conscious businesses when purchasing. Generally, ecologically-minded consumers will pay 10-20% more for sustainable fashion. But if you’ve noticed, the prices of our bamboo socks are actually the same as cotton and cheaper than our recycled cotton. If consumers seek quality, sustainability and value, it’s tough to beat bamboo.
Retail is all about matching the right customer with the right product, and thanks to some powerful brands pushing sustainability, their fans are easy to spot. When someone comes into your store flashing a Patagonia jacket or a North Face vest, that’s often a signal of someone not just able to pay more but of a person looking to pay more in pursuit of preserving the environment.
As a sustainable product, bamboo is riding the tide of consumer demand. Overall, bamboo fiber sales are expected to grow 6% annually over the next several years, meaning you don’t need to worry about it becoming a short-lived hype cycle that leaves you with unsold inventory.
Plus, while bamboo demand is soaring, its price is generally more stable than cotton. Bamboo’s pricing is less dependent on market factors. Trust us: this year alone we’ve seen articles about cotton prices going up and coming down. This inconsistency can wreak havoc on cost management. When it comes to inflation, bamboo has been a steady Eddie of late!
The Ultimate in Aspiration
We’ve always felt that socks are the perfect launch pad when you’re ready to break through to the next level of luxury. That sounds a little heady but stay with us.
Let’s suppose you’re looking to step up your game in quality, but your bank account’s a little thin: bamboo socks will put a spring in your step for a similar price to cotton. Natural bamboo fabric is silky-soft, cool to the touch, and gentle on the skin. Bamboo is a fabric that offers eco-conscious consumers comfort and quality at an affordable price.
Perhaps you’ve just watched one of those devastating documentaries about the state of the environment but wonder how you could possibly make a dent: while they won’t stop global warming, bamboo socks can help make an impact. High-quality Bamboo fabric is created by production practices that use a natural enzyme on crushed bamboo wood fibers. These naturally treated fibers are then cleaned and spun into yarn that has a soft, silky texture. This processing method does not harm the environment, yet it creates a strong and long-lasting fabric.
Socks, after all, aren’t just about fabric, colors, and textures. Like all products, they represent a story we want to be told - ideally, a story we aspire to retell.
Bamboo offers wearers a unique, sustainable story that’s not just a tiny bit exotic.