Gold Toe Brands
Gold Toe Brands, Inc., is the third largest United States-based producer of socks. It makes more than half of the men's dress socks sold in department stores in the United States and produces more than 140 million pairs of socks annually. Gold Toe socks are on the American Podiatric Medical Association's approved list of brands for foot health.
The firm began operations as Great American Knitting Mills in Bally, Pennsylvania, during the early twentieth century. During the Great Depression it began manufacturing men's dress socks with a toe made from high quality Irish linen, which made the their product more resistant to holes and fraying than ordinary socks. A department store buyer informed company management that these durable socks were popular, but customers had difficulty distinguishing the product from its competitors. So the manufacturer added gold acetate thread to the toes of its socks in order to make it visually distinctive on store shelves. Katya Andresen and Kate (FRW) Roberts, authors of Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes, call this branding decision "a stroke of genius" and credit it for the firm's dominant position in its niche market: "Go to a leading department store today, and you can see why. In a sea of black and blue men's dress socks, Gold Toe practically leaps off the display shelves." The manufacturer changed its name to Gold Toe Brands Inc. in 2002. In 2009, Gold Toe worked with Washington, D.C., based marketing and design company, Unison Agency, to recreate their online retail platform.
GTB Holding Corp holds the trademark licensing rights to the Sanforization process of pre-shrinking fabric, named for its inventor, Sanford L. Cluett, who developed the process for Cluett Peabody & Company, which he joined in 1919.
Gold Toe merged with later competitor Moretz in 2006 to form GoldToeMoretz. Gildan Activewear acquired the company in 2011.
The company's operations headquarters is located in Burlington, North Carolina, with executive headquarters in New York City. Gold Toe Brands, Inc., has shifted much of its manufacturing to China, particularly Zhejiang province. This attracted criticism from author Ted C. Fishman in China, Inc: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World, who notes that although the Gold Toe Brands website boasts that its socks are made by skilled workers and inspected for quality, those workers "are likely to be migrant farm women toiling in the Zhejiang sock factories".
Although its primary market is men's dress socks, Gold Toe Brands has expanded to other segments of the sock market. In 1983 it added a line of women's socks, then in 1986 it began producing boys' socks, and in 1992 it started making women's tights. Unlike many other firms that sell to department store buyers, Gold Toe does not rely on retail discounts to increase its sales and prohibits retailers from discounting its products.
- Katya Andresen, Kate (FRW) Roberts (2006). Robin Hood Marketing: Stealing Corporate Savvy to Sell Just Causes. John Wiley and Sons. pp. 86–87. ISBN 978-0-7879-8148-8. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
- Goldtoe Brands Inc. "Goldtoe’s History". Goldtoe Brands Inc. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
- Givhan, Robin (2006-07-24). "Blue-Chip Socks: Haute Hose by Vivek Nagrani, Just the Thing to Cool Your Heels". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
- Ted C. Fishman (2005). China, Inc: how the rise of the next superpower challenges America and the world. Simon and Schuster. pp. 70–71. ISBN 978-0-7432-5752-7. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
- Harvard Medical School (2005). Foot Care Basics: Preventing and Treating Common Foot Conditions (Second Edition). Harvard Health Publications. p. 44. ISBN 978-1-933225-76-0. Retrieved 2009-04-28.
- Michael Dunn, Chris Halsall (2009). The Marketing Accountability Imperative: Driving Superior Returns on Marketing Investments. John Wiley and Sons. p. 174. ISBN 978-0-7879-9832-5. Retrieved 2009-04-28.