IMPRESSIONS from a Cross-section

Sector Pulse
Luke Otten
Luke Otten
Marketing Communications Manager
Wigwam Mills Inc

Wigwam aims to recycle discarded yarn that doesn’t make it through the knitting process


What is the secret behind successfully running the sock business for more than a century? Take us through your illustrious journey. What does the name Wigwam mean? Most of the socks manufacturing has now moved to Asia. How do you manage to control the cost, given this scenario? Please tell us in detail about your new recycling programme.

In our history of 112 years, we continue to innovate our product to meet the changing consumer demands while maintaining a steadfast commitment to quality and sustainable manufacturing. The product lines, brand marks and even the company name have changed during our tenure in the sock business. Our core values and commitment to employees, customers and community has given us the opportunity to be a leader in our industry for many years.

Most people know what we do at Wigwam. We make socks. We are not only focused on seeing our product on pegs at retail but carefully consider the whole process from start to finish. Where we source our yarn, how we take that yarn and knit it into socks and what happens to unused or discarded yarn drives our manufacturing process.

Robert Sr. announced the name change in a letter stating, 'Only our name changes. Our people, quality, sales policies - and above all, our desire to work with you - remain the same.' Only little is known about its origin. The best guess stems from a pair of crossed knitting needles with yarn rounding out the top, which resembles an actual American Indian hut known as a wigwam. With its domed top, one can still see the resemblance in the company's logo in use today.

Wigwam has always taken pride in its knitted socks that topped the sector in quality of materials and craftsmanship. We do our best to work with domestic suppliers and source about 85 per cent of our raw materials from the US. This gives us the opportunity to be more nimble, reduce working hours and establish a high standard for quality control.

In November of 2016, Wigwam established a new recycling center within our finishing department. Each month about 2,000 lbs. of socks that would have otherwise been destroyed and discarded are sorted, inspected, paired and re-paired. With 6,000 pair and counting already processed, we are taking steps to reduce our impact on the environment and warm the feet of people in need. This new programme will push us towards our goal of becoming a zero landfill company, help to improve our manufacturing process and how we make our products. In the near future, Wigwam also has plans to work with Martex Fiber to recycle discarded yarn that doesn't make it through the knitting process. This partnership will allow us to join Martex in their 'No Fibre Left Behind' effort to eliminate textile waste.

Published on: 24/06/2017

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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