For XOSKIN CEO Rick Rudinger, innovating high-tech, researched-based performance clothing is personal. His interest in textiles piqued as an Army Infantry Officer in the 1980’s. As an Airborne Ranger, he spent plenty of time in the field, and believed the gear the teams were using had room for improvement.
After his time in the Army, Rick went on to pursue a career in textiles, and was part of a team that developed apparel for the U.S. Department of Defense. This ultimately led him to start his own fiber development company based in Maryland.
He first sold his patented yarns to other brands, but in 2015, after years of R&D, Rick founded XOSKIN (pronounced “exo-skin”) to bring his cutting-edge technology to the outdoor and athletic apparel space.
“Socks are our gateway drug into the brand,” joked VP of Business Development, Kroy Taughinbaugh.
“Everybody wears socks…well, there’s a few people out there who don’t. But for the most part everyone wears socks, and if you spend enough time running or hiking in them, many people end up with hot spots or blisters. That’s where we come in.”
XOSKIN toe socks are made with the brand’s patented yarn technology. This unique yarn uses two materials — PTFE NanoGLIDE® and Copper CuTEC® — under the trade name RapiDriCopper™.
PTFE is commonly found in dental floss, plumber’s tape, Gore-Tex, and Teflon™ cookware because of its ability to reduce friction and repel moisture. In wearable fabric, the technology helps clothing wick moisture, dry quickly, and protect skin from blisters and chafing — just as the exoskeleton protects an insect.
Copper is utilized in XOSKIN’s apparel for its antimicrobial properties.
“These things don’t wear out,” Kroy laughed. “Which, from a business standpoint, is bad for me! I have shirts from the first production run years ago and I can’t tell them apart from a new shirt.”
Kroy explained how competitors often put “chemistry or tech” on their garments during the dying process.
“Eventually that technology washes out and you’re left with a cheap piece of fabric.” XOSKIN’s technology is bonded to the material and will not wash out. “It will last a very long time.”
Toe socks quickly became the brand’s best-selling product because customers were looking for a better performing and more durable alternative, Kroy said.
Earlier this year, XOSKIN was mentioned in an Outside Magazine online article written by a thru-hiker applauding the brand’s toe socks. Just hours after the article went live, online orders started pouring in.
“It started off like our holiday sale volume and then just exploded,” Kroy said. “The article introduced us to a whole new group of people … hikers.”
If seeing is believing, for XOSKIN, feeling is believing. “Once you put that product on, you will immediately feel the difference between XOSKIN and what you’ve been wearing,” Kroy said.
XOSKIN went as far as hiring an independent firm to test the wicking and drying rates of its material against top brands in the market. “I don’t think there’s any other brand that has published independent head-to-head test data,” Kroy said.
XOSKIN believes in their products so much that they offer a 30-day, no-questions-asked return policy. “We want you to put it on, take it outside, and wear it,” Kroy said. “It’s a risk-free trial of a garage grown brand that’s made in the USA. and has benefits you can’t get anywhere else.”
XOSKIN’s outside-the-box, eco-conscious, USA made packaging also helps it stand above the crowd. “It is unique,” Kroy said. “Expensive,” he laughed. “But unique.”
Resisting the status quo, XOSKIN packs its apparel in LokSak Double Seal Bags, providing the customer a useful piece of multi-purpose gear to protect food or valuables.
“Starting and building a brand from scratch without a huge marketing machine behind it was both challenging and rewarding,” Kroy said. As the self-described Chief Whipping Boy, “it was a lot of blood, sweat and tears…and creative work. We made a lot of mistakes,” he laughed, “But that’s how we learn.”
“The challenge of developing products that perform in the most extreme conditions and still protect the customer is a huge and monumental task,” Kroy said.
And, the reward is the people, he added. “The people we’ve met, the athletes we’ve had the pleasure of working with…we travel vicariously through all of them and like to think we help them do amazing things.”