Special thanks to TruSox Founder and CEO Jim Cherneski for taking the time to educate us on this incredible story.
How was the TruSox idea born? Can you tell us a bit about the company’s history?
I was a professional soccer player and coach in the third and then second divisions of US professional soccer over an 8 year period. I was frustrated with movement within my shoes all my life. I would go through new soccer shoes every month or so, looking for a tight, snug fit. I would wear my shoes (as most soccer players do) very tight (up to a size and a half smaller than what I would wear in a regular shoe). This helped, but did not solve the problem completely. I would still have movement when cutting sharply and exploding in the new direction, or when my plant foot was at an angle when striking the ball. Eventually, it dawned on me that, this is not an issue with the shoes, the problem was the connection point between the shoe and my foot. A slippery sock! (I often tell people, can you imagine playing tennis or golf with a sock on your hand?!- No way!). In 2010 we received an initial patent for a non-slip sock (with non-slip technology on the inside and outside of the sock! - this is our secret to a product that fully works in stopping movement within the shoe).
Once we had a product that worked, I started passing it out to some of my team members from Crystal Palace Baltimore (the professional soccer team in Baltimore at the time). The feedback was good, but the product only worked well in dry conditions. Over the course of the next 18 months I continued to build and test models to come up with a solution that would work in dry and wet conditions. Eventually we found the right formula and created a product that actually worked in all conditions and stopped movement within the shoe. It was a major breakthrough for us.
Two local businessmen invested in the original patent and in a newly formed company to continue to develop the solution. In January of 2012 I started taking trips to England to pass out the socks to players in the English Premier League via contacts that I had from my time with Crystal Palace (Crystal Palace Baltimore was an affiliate club of Crystal Palace Football Club in London - now in the English Premier League). Players in the league started to take to the product right away. They were giving me the same feedback that I was experiencing from the product. They said they felt like they were more snug in their shoes. They said they felt sharper in quick turns and their plant foot felt secure! The product worked and we were getting those testimonies back from some of the top players in the world.
Where are you based?
TruSox, LLC is a Maryland based company with company Headquarters in Glen Bernie, MD. We have a subsidiary company called TruSox Europe Ltd that is located in Manchester, England, which is where I now reside.
What differentiates TruSox from others? How would you counter someone claiming that “all socks are the same”?
TruSox are all about the technology added to the socks. TruSox have a patent pending non-slip technology pads that are applied to the inside and outside of the socks simultaneously. This is the key. If there is non-slip material only on the outside of the socks, then the foot slides within the sock. If there is non-slip material only on the inside of the socks, then the sock slides within the shoe.
So you've been able to patent TruSox technology?
We have one patent in place with a second in a patent pending status. We have filed in 54 nations worldwide, so we have invested quite heavily in Intellectual Property. TruSox are the only company in the world that can make these full coverage non-slip socks.
Are TruSox hard to put on and/or do they take some time to get used to?
TruSox are not hard to put on, but they do feel different than regular socks. The non-slip technology pads can feel a bit hard when you first put them on, but similar to a golf glove, once they warm up to your skin, they mold right to your foot and become very comfortable. This usually takes about 5 minutes for them to warm up and mold to your feet.
It appears that athletes wear TruSox for a wide range of sports, from soccer to boxing to baseball to name a few… how have you been able to expand from your soccer roots?
TruSox were designed originally to solve a problem for me in soccer. I absolutely hated movement within my shoe. TruSox did solve the problem for me and it was amazing to be able to play soccer with my feet completely secure within my shoes! What we found is that athletes in many sports felt the same way. We have seen a huge uptake in professional baseball, Rugby and Cricket (we are a very international business) to name a few.
I’ve read that several World Cup stars played in TruSox in Brazil. That had to be very exciting for the company... what has the response been from these athletes?
We had roughly 100 players from 16 different nations wearing TruSox in the World Cup. It was tremendous for the company. We have retail stores and chains all over the world calling us to stock TruSox now. The best feedback that we can get is that the players wear TruSox. This means they like them. They would not go through the hassle otherwise. Some told me that they were even fined for wearing them, but they wore them anyway because it helps their performance.
Sorry, I have to ask… Luis Suarez made headlines with his feet as well as his teeth in Brazil… what was your reaction to his meltdown?
We were just in disbelief that it happened. If you met him, you would say, wow what a gentleman and professional. His coach at Liverpool said that he is the hardest working guy and most professional player, in attitude, that he has ever worked with. That is what all his teammates say too. It is just a shame. He is one of the best soccer players on the planet and we are glad he wears TruSox. He was the second player in two consecutive years to win the English Premier League “Player of the Year” award while wearing TruSox.
I also noticed that MLB players Matt Kemp, CC Sabathia, and Dee Gordon are TruSox athletes as well. I don’t follow baseball like I used to, but have heard rumblings that Gordon is leading the league in stolen bases (looking it up he has 46 stolen bases in 99 games). I’m sure he’s pretty fast in anything he wears, but do you feel that TruSox give him an edge on the base paths?
It is great to see Dee Gordon having such a great year and it seems fitting that the player leading the league in stolen bases is wearing TruSox. His personal testimony is similar to other athletes who say that their foot just feels more stable in the shoe and the shoe feels more connected to the body.
You probably don’t recommend TruSox for swimming, but how could they be beneficial when biking, running, and/or racing triathlons?
We have had some great reviews in running. People have said that they feel more energy transfer on each step when running forward. It actually makes sense. If you move slightly within your shoes on each step, you are losing valuable momentum when running. I think TruSox makes any athlete feel sharper in their activities. Well, except for swimming as you say!