100-Year-Old Sock Maker Renfro Brands Plans for the Future With Sustainability and DEI Goals

Renfro Brands, the makers of socks for Polo Ralph Lauren, Fruit of the Loom, Merrell, K.Bell, Hotsox and other labels, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. But at the same time that the North Carolina-based manufacturer is honoring the past, it is also looking ahead, making plans for a more-equitable and sustainable future.

Renfro Brands, which was acquired in June by New York-based private holding company The Renco Group Inc., announced today a new corporate social responsibility program, dubbed Project Footprint, which includes both internal and external actions to benefit the planet, its own employees and the communities in which it operates.

In regard to sustainability, the sock maker has committed to using sustainable yarns and materials in at least half of its products by 2025 — and aims to increase that percentage to 100% by 2030.

Also by 2025, Renfro has pledged to increase the amount of BIPOC employees at the manager level by over 20% in order to “ensure leaders reflect the consumers we serve.”

And to further its outreach in the community, Renfro plans to launch an annual sock capsule that will be sold on its direct-to-consumer e-commerce site Loops & Wales, with all proceeds going to organizations “helping people get back on their feet.” Additionally, next year, the company is creating more opportunities for employees to volunteer at organizations in their communities, with the goal to donate $1 million in employee hours to nonprofits.

Renfro Brands History
A brief look at 100 years of history at Renfro Brands.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Renfro Brands

2020 was a critical year for companies to define their relationships to racial equality. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd and subsequent national protests, major companies announced new measures and commitments to improve racial equality. Over a year later, many footwear companies — from Nike and VF Corp. to Foot Locker and Macy’s — are still broadening and fine-tuning their DEI commitments and philanthropic efforts.

The past year has also brought a heightened focus on sustainability, in light of new and troubling reports from UN scientists about rising global temperatures and climate change. Footwear and fashion companies across the industry have been leaning into the issue, implementing changes in their manufacturing and operations in order to reduce their carbon impact.

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