Since its beginning in the Fox River Valley of Appleton, Wisconsin, in 1900, Fox River Mills, Inc. (now based in Osage, Iowa) has been committed to producing quality knitted socks and handwear. Fox River was founded on the principle of offering a superior product with great service at a fair price. Today, Fox River Mills is one of the leading outdoor, athletic, and lifestyle sock manufacturers in the world.
Fox River Mills, Inc. was founded in Appleton, Wisconsin in 1900 and got its name from its location in the Fox River Valley. During its first 60 years, Fox River manufactured socks, mittens and gloves primarily for hunters, fishermen and lumberjacks. In the early 1960s, Fox River extended its product line to include new and innovative styles and colors to keep pace with the expanding active sports market.
In 1985, Fox River began manufacturing hosiery under the Wick Dry® brand name. The patented Wick Dry® Health System™ reinforced Fox River’s commitment to meet and exceed consumers’ expectations. Today, that commitment continues with innovations like our award-winning high-performance socks-Wick Dry®, anatomical styles, and the naturally antimicrobial X-STATIC® (X-Static)—The Silver Fiber® socks. NASA has even certified four of our styles for use in the space program.
Fox River’s ties to Osage, Iowa started with the purchase of the Marr Knitting Mill in Osage in 1966. Three years later, this mill burned down. By 1971, a new mill was completed and the company permanently relocated its headquarters from Appleton to Osage. Fox River continued to grow by acquiring Rockford Textiles of McMinnville, Tennessee, in 1985, and Portage Mills of Portage, Wisconsin, in 1988. Zwicker Knitting, Zwicker International and Nelson Knitting (manufacturer of the Original Rockford Red Heel®, affectionately known as the “monkey sock”) were acquired in 1992. The company completed its state-of-the art addition in 1995 bringing the total square footage of Fox River Mills to more than 250,000 sq. ft.
The growth of Fox River Mills can be significantly credited to the efforts of the Lessard family. In 1940, Joseph Lessard went to work for Fox River as knitting superintendent. He worked his way up through the ranks and bought the company in 1975.
The Lessard family still owns and operates Fox River Mills. Today, Joseph’s sons John and Jeff Lessard (along with many other talented people) manage the smooth and efficient operation of the company.
Fox River’s success can also be attributed to the dedication of more than 300 hard-working, long-term employees drawn from Osage and surrounding communities.
Every day Fox River turns thousands of pounds of yarn into thousands of pairs of socks.
We use a wide variety of yarns dictated by the way our customers use our products. All the fibers we use have their own knitting properties and those factors need to be considered when developing our products. Our design process also must consider the type of knitting machine, yarn size and weight, machine capacity, and pricing. As you see, there is a lot to evaluate before we even get to knitting.
We have broken the manufacturing process into five steps. We start with knitting, followed by seaming, wet finish, board pairing, and packaging. Join us on a virtual tour of how the leader in premium outdoor and sport socks makes its products.