Toestee Socks was started in 1997 by Eileen Rogers, a native of the Philippine Islands, looking for a way to keep warm in the cold, damp weather of the Pacific Northwest. A self-taught seamstress, Eileen discovered fleece fabrics when her sister brought her a sample of scrap fleece that was leftover from her workplace in a textile manufacturing plant. She claimed that this fleece was it! Not only was it wonderfully soft, but it was also the answer to all her cold weather problems.
After initially being enthralled by the wonders of fleece, to her disappointment, Eileen discovered that the fleece was only soft until its first wash. Not only that, but as soon as you started to sweat, which did not take long, you would actually start to freeze.
After much research and experimentation, she discovered the true solution to her problem: the wonderfully warm, always soft, temperature-regulating Polartec line of fleece fabrics.
Using the spare bedroom in her house, Eileen began to experiment making socks out of the Polartec. Many revisions later, she had created a comfortable and refined version of the original socks which she coined Toestee Socks because they keep your toes toasty warm.
Over the years, the line has grown to include many other items. Some are a big success, ever in demand the original Toestee Socks in fun colors and patterns are always a favorite. Some items were not so successful, think of a hat that has wings like a bird and flaps when you are flying down the slopes. Many ideas for items come from customers who are looking for specific items particular to their favorite sports and hobbies.
Still one of Polartec's biggest fans, you can often catch Eileen wearing complete outfits made entirely of Polartec. Even in the warmer summer months! Every winter, Eileen personally tests all her items. Whether it's speeding over the trails on a snowmobile, exploring the back country on snow shoes or cross-country skis, or simply taking a stroll down the road after a rare snowfall at home, working on her garden or camping in the summer, you can bet that she is always comfortably warm.
Even now that we have "retired" and relocated in the Texas Hill Country, we found that our clothing is put to good use in the late Fall up to early Spring where 60 degrees feels like freezing and there are bone chilling Winter days.
Eileen Rogers of Port Orchard was so cold when she moved here from the Philippines, she began a search for a fabric that would keep her warm.
"My search led me to try Polartec, and the first thing I made out of it was a pair of socks. My feet finally felt so toasty and warm, I named my clothing company Toestee Socks after that first pair," Rogers said.
But the Polartec line of fabric is made exclusively by Malden Mills, and Rogers found they were very particular about selling fabric to anyone who intended to use it for commercial garment construction.
Anything under the Polartec label must meet exacting quality criteria. The company also expects a direct purchaser to buy a minimum number of bolts.
"I actually had to send some of my proposed items back to Malden Mills for them to inspect and approve before I could begin ordering the fabric for commercial production," Rogers said.
Rogers began her business by selling her socks two years ago at fairs, bazaars and trade shows. She rapidly expanded her product line to sell a full line of apparel from her home but says the real boon to her sales came when she went online to take orders.
"I have a link that tells you exactly how to measure for size, another showing the available colors and fabric, one describing the products, and an order form," Rogers said.
In addition to selling standard-size pants, shirts, jackets, one-piece outfits, gloves and hats, she also does custom work.
"I'm just finishing up a set of custom outerwear Polartec for a young woman who loves outdoor activities but just couldn't find anything to fit her," Rogers said.
A one-piece catsuit, used in place of long underwear, is heading out to a man in Austin, Texas, who is going skiing in Colorado. Kim Lyons, editor of Northwest Women Flyfishers, loves the shirt she ordered from Toestee Socks.
Rogers' Polartec clothing comes in several weights and degrees of stretchability, and can be used for inner, middle layer or outerwear.
It's favored by active people because of its ability to wick perspiration away from the body so the wearer stays warm.
It's also relatively quick-drying, and the Windbloc member of the Polartec family has a special membrane that functions as a wind and rain barrier as well.
Linda Whobrey of Puyallup is a construction company road flagger. She also owns a three-wheel motorized ""trike,"" which she recently drove from Puyallup to Olympia for a toy drive.
"I just love Eileen's products. They're very well made. I wear the socks, pants and shirt in place of long underwear. I stayed warm on my trike trip and on my job when it was so cold a couple of weeks ago," Whobrey said.
When you look around Rogers' jam-packed mini-warehouse at the seven different commercial-grade sewing machines, the bolts of brightly colored and patterned fabric, and the rows of product neatly sized and stacked, you wonder how much more room there is for Toestee Socks to grow.
Rogers has one full-time employee, Carmella Long, and another on call. But Rogers says she really doesn't want to expand much more and does not want to sell retail.
"My biggest week was probably the 450 pairs of socks we did for three shows recently. I still want to have time to do online and custom work," Rogers said.
And customers Jeff and Marcia Odett of Royal Oak, Mich., were a little bit nervous about shopping online. Ordering from Toestee Socks was their first online experience.
"Through her comprehensive Web site, we were able to get exactly the right fit. The quality and performance of her outer wear, along with the personal and professional service, was unbeatable. She has two customers for life," Marcia Odett said.
Sure, everyone is wearing it nowadays. That's all you see, fleece, fleece, and more
fleece. Every company is selling it... from Old Navy and Gap, to Kmart and Wal-Mart.
But how is it different from Polartec ®?
The simple answer is: You get what you pay for.
Fleece tends to be warm and wonderful and cozy- that is until the first time you wash it,
or until the first time you decide to do some serious snow playing or skiing, or anything
outdoors for that matter. Polartec ® is also warm and wonderful the first time you wear it,
and every time after that. The superior weave and quality of Polartec ® prevents it from
"pilling" and becoming stiff the first time, or anytime for that matter, after
you wash it.
Ready to go outside for some serious skiing, snowboarding, snow playing, or outdoor
activities? How about climbing Mt. Everest? Not a problem. Polartec ® is a family of
high-quality products with fabrics that cover you from head to toe, inside to out.
How does it work? How can it keep me warm and dry in the harshest of outdoor conditions?
The first thing to remember about Polartec ® is that it breathes. This is important, because
as you perspire, your sweat is wicked away from your body. So you have dry warmth
surrounding you rather than cold perspiration that will chill you. Next, the fibers of
this polyester fabric trap the heat you produce, therefore keeping your temperature
The Polartec ® Family of fabrics made exclusively by Polartec LLC.
Polartec LLC, the exclusive company that manufactures Polartec ® fleece, produces an entire
family of Polartec ® fabrics that is designed as the ultimate climate control. There are
three layers that each one of the fabrics fits into; the inner or thermal layer (the
closest to your body), the middle layer, and the outer layer.
The Polartec ® fabric Windbloc® is outer layer protection from even the harshest of
climates. Not only does it boast the same high quality features of the other Polartec ®
fabrics, but it includes a special membrane between layers of Polartec ® that function as a
wind and rain stopper. It is specially designed so that your perspiration will pass
through the membrane, but any water, from light sprinkle, to torrential downpour, will NOT
pass through. The warmth and dryness this fabric provides will allow you to enjoy the
outdoors for longer periods of time.
The middle layer can be used as an outer layer in conditions that are not extreme. The
Polartec ® 200 series of fleece is not windproof, not even waterproof like the Windbloc
fabric, but it is water resistant. The water is very easy to brush off. This means that it
is perfect for everyday use. It, like the whole family of Polartec ® fabrics, will not
"pill" or lose it's softness, no matter how may times it is washed. This is a
great feature for any everyday wear item. Many people opt to go with Polartec ® 200 series
fleece because of the versatility of it. If it calls for wind or rain in the
weather forecast, you can simply slip a nylon jacket over it, and you are set to go.
How about the socks made of the Polartec ® 200 series fabric? How will they fit into my
shoes? Believe it or not, the plush fleece of the socks will almost squish down to
nothing. Wear them in your everyday shoes, in your hiking boots, your snowboard or ski
boots, cowboy or riding boots it doesn't matter, they will fit! And with very soft side
seams, you will hardly know that they are there.
The inner most layer, the thermal layer is very important. The Polartec ® Powerstretch
fabric is a thinner fleece that will actually stretch four ways. This is great for the
extreme flexibility it provides. It is very ideal for leggings and full body suits because
of the flexibility it provides, as well as the remarkable warmth it provides and the
thinness of the fabric.
There are many other fabrics within the Polartec ® family, so check them out. Just remember
that if it claims to be Polartec ®, but does not have the tag, it can't be trusted! Don't be
fooled! Buy only the best for yourself.
*Polartec ® is a registered
trademark of Polartec LLC.
POLARTEC ®, WINDBLOC ®, WINDPRO ®, POWER STRETCH ® are trademarks registered in the
Unites States and in other jurisdictions for fabrics available only from POLARTEC, LLC.