DeFeet Founder Shane Cooper, working on a knitting machine on the knitting floor.
DeFeet Celebrates 30 Years
Shane Cooper, a 28-year-old electronics major, hunched over the cylinder of the knitting machine given to him by his father. He picked and prodded at the row of needles encircling the top of the machine. Overhead, yarn cones fed their thin strands into the machine. Sweat dripped from his nose, landing on the backs of his hands as he worked. Other than the occasional clack of tools, sigh, or shuffle of Shane’s feet, the warehouse sat silent in the dense, late night Southern heat.
If he could just reassemble the knitting machine and run one more prototype, might it be the one - the sock design he could only see in his mind? Of the hundreds of attempts he’d already made, exactly none had fulfilled his vision: the creation of the first cycling-specific sock with a flat-knit cuff and an open, aerated mesh weave fabric over the top of the foot.
One more feature the budding cycling sock inventor imagined but had not been able to achieve was to plate an armor-like abrasion resistant yarn on the outside of the sock while keeping a new, high-performance CoolMax® wicking yarn against the skin.
Paul Sherwen interviews Greg LeMond with Paul Willerton looking on.
The year was 1992.
An American had won the Tour de France three out of the past seven years. Shane’s father, learning of the late nights his son was putting in trying to create an entirely new type of sock for cycling, would goad him.
“Son, the day Greg LeMond wears your socks in the Tour de France, that’s when I’ll say you’ve made it,” he’d say in his broad English accent. “And not a day sooner.”
Later that year, after a series of Eureka moments, Cooper’s vision for the cycling sock had become reality. The Aireator® was born, and with it, the DeFeet brand. By 1994, pro riders worldwide were demanding DeFeet socks to wear in each of the sport’s disciplines, including Team GAN and Greg LeMond in his final Tour de France. DeFeet had made it to La Grand Boucle in just two years, rising from an idea in one person’s imagination to representing at the pinnacle of sport.
2022 marks the 30th Anniversary of DeFeet. We are reminded that time and tide wait for no man; every day counts. Each day is an opportunity to innovate, create, and build; to share experiences and moments we may never forget en route toward a future we can only imagine.
The custom Gan sock knit by DeFeet
Below: Shane stands with his father in front of the DeFeet van, wearing Gan gear from Greg Le Mond and holding Greg LeMond's bike.