Bombas has been around for about eight years now, and socks are their flagship product. Whether you were aware of them at the time of the company’s launch or have been introduced to them through advertisements explaining their charity-focused mission, most people are familiar with Bombas apparel by now.
Conscientious consumers may be tempted by what they’ve heard about Bombas, but for many, the first question to ask is, “where are Bombas socks made?” We’re here to answer that question so that if you’ve been on the fence about them, you can finally make a decision you’re confident in.
Bombas socks are not made in the USA. According to the Bombas website, they make products all over the world including the United States, Taiwan, China, and Peru. However, after calling the company I was informed that none of their socks are made in America.
Bombas offers a lot of detailed information about their socks on their website, from the type of material and the cuff design to the knitting and stitching patterns used. Unfortunately, where materials are sourced from and where products are manufactured is not part of the information they provide. Product descriptions do not contain information about the manufacturing location, and there is no information on the Bombas website that addresses the manufacturing process; material sourcing, product manufacturing, and transportation are almost entirely a mystery. The one and only place where we get a hint about it is in the FAQ section.
Included in the Sock Information articles is one called “Where are Your Socks Made?” This article on their page is frustratingly short and vague, however, we did find some information about the manufacturing of Bombas socks. According to Bombas, their products are made all over the world including the United States, Peru, China, and Taiwan. They also stated that their manufacturing facilities have all passed audits with the highest standards for safety, health, and social compliance.
The statement, “we produce our products all over the world,” tells us that any Bombas products could be made anywhere in the world, so really, this article doesn’t give us any more certainty than we had before. So, we went and had a quick chat with a Bombas help team member, who revealed the simple, yes-or-no answer we were looking for: no, none of Bombas’s socks are currently made in the US.
Where Are Their Other Products Made?
The official statement in the FAQ articles implies that some of Bombas’s products are made in the US — but socks are their main product, so if none of their socks are made in the US, why would the case be different for their newer product lines? We decided to take a closer look and see if we could find anything made by Bombas that’s actually produced domestically.
While the articles about where their underwear and t-shirts are made are even shorter than the article about socks, they do provide more clear answers. The “Where is Your Underwear Manufactured” article is pretty short and sweet: “All of our underwear is currently produced in China.” That’s it, that’s the entire article. At least it’s a straightforward answer, unlike their answer about their socks. The t-shirt article is a bit longer, but just as clear: “We produce our T-Shirts in Peru at the most technical and highest rated manufacturing facility. The Pima cotton used to make our T-Shirts is sourced, picked, spun, and knitted all within a 100-mile radius.”
So, we can’t really figure out what their supposed US-made apparel is. They did recently introduce slippers, and they say nothing at all about where those are made. It’s possible that the vague statement is referring to that product line, but we’re skeptical at this point.
More About the Bombas Company
The founder of Bombas, Steve Pemberton, started reflecting on the ideas that would inspire the creation of the company back in 2011, when he learned that socks are the most requested item of clothing at homeless shelters. He was so moved by the idea that something which most people don’t think about for more than a few seconds could be considered a luxury by people in serious need that, in 2013, he launched a company that would aim to address this problem.
Bombas started by declaring their plan to donate one pair of socks to a homeless shelter for every pair of socks they sold. Over time, they expanded to underwear and t-shirts, the second and third most requested items of clothing at homeless shelters, and continued their giving operation.This year, they passed the 50 million mark, with more than 50 million items sold and, therefore, more than 50 million items donated. These donations are made through thousands of homeless shelters and community organizations, all across the country.
If you’d like to learn more about Bombas and hear from their leadership, check out the video below!
What Bombas Gets Right
People who decide to buy American-made products don’t do so arbitrarily; there are many reasons behind American consumers’ choices about where they want their products to be made. This article explains those reasons in-depth, but for the sake of this discussion about Bombas, we’ll try to highlight a few of them in a simple way. The arguments for “buying American” can basically be divided into two categories: the guarantees that come with American products, and the effects that buying domestically-produced things can have on the economy.
The first category includes things like the quality of American products and the environmental regulations and labor laws placed on American production. American manufacturing requirements and facility requirements ensure that American-made products meet a certain minimum quality standard, and it is easier to verify this quality than the quality of imported products — basically, things manufactured in other countries could be produced according to American quality standards, but we can’t really know if they are or not, making the purchase of imported products kind of a shot in the dark. Similarly, the working conditions of workers in American facilities are guaranteed to meet a certain minimum requirement, while some countries from which we often import products still allow de facto slave labor.
The second category revolves around the inevitable fact that buying products from a country is beneficial for that country. Presumably, Americans tend to want to grow their own economy more than the economies of other countries, so buying American is the way to go. Purchasing products made in the US supports American jobs, contributes to the local and domestic economies, and encourages future manufacturing booms.
You really can’t hit all of these points through anything other than manufacturing your products in the US, so Bombas definitely gets points taken off for where they produce their clothing, but it’s worth mentioning that they do cover a couple of these concerns to some degree.
Their charitable mission aside, Bombas does also make an effort for social responsibility in their manufacturing facilities. These facilities have a Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) certification, indicating that they meet certain social responsibility standards.
WRAP is based on twelve core principles: 1) compliance with local laws and workplace regulations; 2) prohibition of forced labor; 3) prohibition of child labor; 4) prohibition of harassment and abuse; 5) fair compensation and benefits; 6) hours of work and days off; 7) prohibition of discrimination; 8) safe and healthy work environment; 9) freedom of association and collective bargaining; 10) environmentally conscious practices; 11) customs compliance; and 12) facility security.
This certification addresses many of the social responsibility concerns that conscientious consumers have about buying imported products. WRAP guarantees that, regardless of the country the facility is in, things like slave labor, child labor, and an abusive work environment are not possible. It also ensures a certain minimum quality of life for employees, through work schedule restrictions, work environment regulations, and protection of the freedom of association.
All that said, WRAP still does not and cannot address every social responsibility concern about imported products, and we may feel less secure about the promises WRAP makes. In the end, WRAP is an independent organization, and although they are headquartered in the US, they operate all around the globe; the fact that these decisions are made so far from home can make us feel uneasy about whether their standards are as high as our own.
Now, the idea about buying American and quality is not that American-made products are better than non-American products 100% of the time; it’s more that it’s easier to verify the production standards that ensure quality when products are made in the US. This can’t be addressed by products made elsewhere, but what can be addressed is the actual level of quality.
There is a lot of debate out there about whether Bombas socks are “worth it” because they are so expensive. We find the reasons behind Bombas’ high price point are the quality of the socks, their charitable business model. Obviously, since Bombas loses two pairs of socks every time they receive payment for one pair, they have to set the price a bit higher. But it would almost be worth it anyway for the quality of the socks. The patterns and the fit may be a matter of personal preference, but there’s no denying the durability of long-lasting Bombas socks. A pair of Bombas will easily last you as long as a high-quality American-made pair, even if that quality isn’t the result of American manufacturing regulations.
What Bombas is Missing
Despite their best efforts, Bombas still leave a lot to be desired when it comes to the concerns of American consumers. Outsourcing the manufacturing process to other countries and shipping the finished products back to the US to be sold has a number of negative effects that are pretty much unavoidable. This Investopedia article talks about the economic impact of importing and exporting in a great amount of detail, for those interested. We’ll also give our own quick rundown of the problems with products manufactured in other countries, focusing on the ones most relevant to Bombas apparel.
Often, when people talk about importing and exporting goods having an impact on the environment, they’re talking about the environmental impact of growing or otherwise producing things in one area vs another. However, there’s another side of the environmental impact that is sometimes overlooked: the transport of goods. Shipping all of your products from “Taiwan, China, and Peru” to the United States costs a lot of fuel and energy and creates a lot of emissions. In almost every case, products like this are also made from raw materials that have to be transported a great distance to the manufacturing location. This is a problem that is unavoidable when a company decides to source, manufacture, and sell their products in all different countries.
There may have been a time when environmental responsibility was not a priority for consumers making an effort to buy American whenever possible, but the average consumer today is much more environmentally conscious than the average consumer of twenty years ago. The question of sustainability and eco-friendliness is on many peoples’ minds, and the fact is, Bombas makes no effort to offer a good solution. The environmental impact of transporting 100 million items around the globe is pretty undeniable.
This is probably the top issue that comes to mind when American consumers talk about buying domestically-produced goods: the support of local American jobs. The idea is an old and simple one, but it pretty much holds true. Companies that choose to manufacture their products in America create jobs for American people, since their manufacturing facilities need to be staffed and managed. This helps the American economy, the American individual, and the broader American society.
The only jobs created in the US by Bombas are jobs at their headquarters, in New York. When you consider how big the company has become, and how many man-hours have gone into their tens of millions of sold products, it’s hard to imagine that the handful of American jobs created by their company HQ really count for anything.
Bombas is a tough company to develop a strong stance on for a conscientious consumer. The good they do for Americans in need by donating clothing to homeless shelters and community organizations can’t be ignored. At the same time, they create a plethora of issues by manufacturing their clothing in other countries, and they aren’t very upfront about that fact, either. We can’t tell you whether or not to support the brand, and we won’t try to, but we will answer the question you came here for, once and for all: no Bombas products are made in the US, and not much about them is American beyond their founder and their customers.
Hi, my name is Kevin and I’m from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Choosing products made in America is important to me because it supports local economies, creates jobs, helps the environment, and ensures ethical labor practices. I also find that American made products are usually of higher quality so although they’re a little more expensive, you save money in the long run. Before starting this website I was in the USMC infantry and nowadays I work on this website as a hobby.