Show Your Love With Lace

When my stepmom gave my dad a pair of Icebreaker merino wool boxer briefs last winter, it was The Perfect Gift: luxuriously soft wool to cosset him, sporty functionality to affirm his love of outdoor pursuits and therefore, his manliness.

But when I asked my pops if he would ever buy lingerie for my stepmom, he said “no way.”

My dad is not alone. Most of the men I surveyed for this blog also said that buying undergarments for a lady friend is fraught, the classic hurdles being (a) the awkwardness of being a dude in a panty store, (b) sizes more befuddling than Sudoku, and (c) the risk that said lady will read the wrong message into the gift (“So my birthday suit isn’t good enough for you anymore?!” Christmas by the fire instead becoming waterworks, a stormy exit and a lonely scotch at the bar.)

What a shame, because comfortable, beautiful, well-made underwear is the basic “gear” of a woman’s daily life, and therefore makes a great present. So let’s take each hurdle in turn, and get you on the road to Man of The Year gifting.

Turn “Dude in a Panty Shop” Into “Dude in a Candy Shop”

 

Candy jars filled with rolled lace thongs at the Hanky Panky Panty Bar at the Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair, now through Christmas Eve.

Candy jars filled with rolled lace thongs at the Hanky Panky Panty Bar at the Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair, now through Christmas Eve.

Face it. My mom can buy sail boat print boxers at J. Crew for my brother without raising any eyebrows. But a man in a lingerie store does not have such an easy time of it. (Double standards are annoying, huh?)

Some practical workarounds:

1. Stop by Hanky Panky’s booth at the Grand Central Holiday Fair now through December 24, 2014. (We’re open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) You’ll find a wide assortment of styles and colors, expert advice, packed-in savings on gift packs, and our always-popular-with-the-ladies Thong Roses.

The Hanky Panky Thong Rose is a Signature Lace Thong wrapped around a silk rose bud. Available in Original Rise ($27, Style No. 4811RB), and Low Rise ($27, Style No. 4911RB), at the Panky Bar or on hankypanky.com.

The Hanky Panky Thong Rose is a Signature Lace Thong wrapped around a silk rose bud. Available in Original Rise ($27, Style No. 4811RB), and Low Rise ($27, Style No. 4911RB), at the Panky Bar and on hankypanky.com.

And while you’re at the Holiday Fair, buy yourself a hand-painted tie at Telos New York, a cooler-than-thou messenger bag at The Lodge, or a chew toy for Fido at The Life of Ryley.

2. Check out hankypanky.com, or even easier, call our Customer Care team for recommendations and let them place the order for you. Call us at 877.447.4811, or Live Chat with us, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 6 pm EST.

3. Not in New York and want to shop in person? Visit the Intimates section of your local NordstromLord and TaylorNeiman MarcusSaksBloomingdales or Macys during off-hours, like the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, or right when the store opens on a weekend. You’re likely to be the only customer there, and one of the perks of shopping at these better department stores is the highly trained sales staff.

 Decoding the Size Chart (Or Better Yet, One Size Fits All)

The World’s Most Comfortable Thong® is one size fits most, so you can skip size headaches.

Hanky Panky Signature Lace Low Rise Thong (Style No. 4911) in Sour Cherry.

Hanky Panky Signature Lace Low Rise Thong ($20, Style No. 4911) in Sour Cherry. Our Low Rise Thong fits pant sizes 2-12, and our Original Rise Thong ($20, Style No. 4811) fits pant sizes 4-14, our. These styles are also available in Plus and Petite sizes.

Too good to be true? Nope, it’s just your lucky day. In Design Revolution, we explained that the lace used in our signature thongs has enough elasticity to be truly one size fits most, without pinching  your honey’s skin. The V-shaped waistband of our thongs also flatter women of different shapes and sizes. If you do want to buy a sized item, take a peek at her dress or pant size and then find her size using our size charts (or call the Hanky Panky Customer Care team and we’ll figure it out for you):

Hanky Panky Size Chart

Use our size chart to buy your Hanky Panky gift in the right size. Or skip the heroics and buy her a Hanky Panky One Size Fits Most thong. I recommend the Original Rise Thong if she’s tall or curvy, or its younger sister, the Low Rise Thong, if she wears low rise jeans.

Choosing the Right Style

I could sing all day about the wonders of our thongs, because that little piece of lace changed my life, but if you’re worried about gifting lingerie that is overtly sexy, here are some subtle, but still smokin’, options:

Hanky Panky BARE Boyshort (Style No. 6J1281) in Mahogany.

Our BARE Boyshort ($30, Style No. 6J1281) is a must-have for every woman’s wardrobe. BARE is made of a super-soft, Italian microfiber, and is invisible under work suits, yoga pants and other form fitting clothes. Thanks to superior Hanky Panky construction, our BARE styles do not ride up or roll down. Available in six colors on hankypanky.com.

Signature Lace Classic Camisole (Style No. 1390L) and Boyshort (Style No. 4812)

You’re sure to score points by pairing our Signature Lace Classic Camisole ($48, Style No. 1390L) with a matching Signature Lace Boyshort ($29, Style No. 4812). Many women wear the cami and boyshort as a sleep set, and both pieces double as practical, everyday luxury. Available in more than 20 colors on hankypanky.com.

Of course, if overtly sexy is what you are going for, the Hanky Panky After Midnight® collection is a veritable garden of delights, including these lovelies:

The Heavy Metal ensemble, from our After Midnight collection. Bralette (Style No. 487294), Brazilian Bikini (Style No. 482644) and Cuffs (Style No. 48STCUFF).

The Heavy Metal ensemble. Bralette ($49, Style No. 487294), Brazilian Bikini ($36, Style No. 482644) and Cuffs ($16, Style No. 48STCUFF).

Signature Lace Keyhole Teddy (Style No. 488406). Shown here in Tulip Pink.

Signature Lace Keyhole Teddy ($69, Style No. 488406). Available on hankypanky.com in Tulip Pink (shown here) and Black.
Plus Size Peek-a-Boo Lace Babydoll with G-String. ($108, Style No. 9C6814X). Available online at hankypanky.com and at Macy's Herald Square.

Plus Size Peek-a-Boo Lace Babydoll with G-String. ($108, Style No. 9C6814X). Available online at hankypanky.com and at Macy’s Herald Square.

Click here for tips on styling your ladybird from Hanky Panky’s Senior Designer, Larissa Shirley King.

Let the gifting begin!

-Clara

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American Beauty Giveaway

American Beauty Giveaway

Hanky Panky teamed up with the Somme Institute to offer ten lucky winners a prize package with a $90 retail value. Each winner will receive the Somme Institute Starter Kit, which includes a trial size of each product in the Institute’s MDT5™  skin care regime, and two Signature Lace Colorplay thongs from Hanky Panky’s 2014 Holiday Collection.

If you didn’t make it to the polls on Tuesday because that spin class or Seinfeld rerun just couldn’t wait, never fear! You can exercise your civic duty this week by entering the Hanky Panky x Somme Institute American Beauty Giveaway.

Hanky Panky, which has proudly manufactured all of its garments in New York since 1977 using American-sourced materials, joined forces with the Somme Institute, New York-based makers of the coveted MDT5™ skin care regimen, to offer ten lucky winners a prize that delivers real American beauty. Each winner will receive:

  • a Somme Institute Starter Kit, which includes a trial size (about one week supply) of each product in the MDT5™ skin care regimen: Nourishing Cleanser, a non-foaming gel, Transport Pads with alpha hydroxy acids to exfoliate, serum to help improve skin tone, texture and clarity, A-Bomb moisturizer to, well, moisturize, and Double Defense cream with SPF 30+ and Parsol 1789 to protect your newly cleaned, exfoliated, toned and moisturized skin from the sun; and
  • two Hanky Panky Signature Lace Colorplay Thongs (Turkish Tile/Purple Jewel and Wisteria/Peachfizz), in the winner’s choice of Original Rise, Low Rise or Petite Low Rise.
Signature Lace Low Rise Thong in Turkish Tile/Purple Jewel (Style No. 36106)

Hanky Panky Signature Lace Low Rise Thong in Turkish Tile/Purple Jewel (Style No. 36106). Also available in Original Rise and Petite Low Rise at hankypanky.com.

Signature Lace Low Rise Thong in Wisteria/Peachfizz (Style No. 36106)

Hanky Panky Signature Lace Low Rise Thong in Wisteria/Peachfizz (Style No. 36106). Also available in Original Rise and Petite Low Rise on hankypanky.com.

To read more about how America’s favorite thong is made right here in New York of materials sourced in the United States, see our earlier posts on Made in America, As American as Hanky Panky, Making It In NYC, and Moral Manufacturing.

Lookin’ good U.S.A.!

-Clara

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Sexually Speaking

“I’m old-fashioned and square,” Dr. Ruth said more than once, as she and Dr. Lila Nachtigall were interviewed about Female Sexuality in the 21st Century by Rehema Ellis of NBC News at the Cosmopolitan Club in Manhattan this week. The event was a presentation of the Foundation for Women’s Wellness, an organization dedicated to raising support for medical research on leading women’s health issues. Despite Ruth Westheimer’s self-characterization, she and “Dr. Lila” were candid and informative about the current state of female sexuality.

Dr. Ruth's Guide to Good Sex (Warner Brothers, New York), 1983.

Hardcover edition of Ruth Westheimer’s first book, Dr. Ruth’s Guide to Good Sex (Warner Brothers, New York), 1983. Many credit Dr. Ruth with bringing frank, informed, and compassionate talk about sex to the American mainstream, beginning in 1982 with her radio talk show, “Sexually Speaking.”

Subjects that were addressed during the presentation and the question period included the dearth of women as a research variable, the curious fact that testosterone has not been approved by the FDA for women to improve libido, dry vagina, which Dr. Lila memorably announced as “my kind of emergency” (call her at any time of the day or night!), anal intercourse (the choice of some young women in order to preserve “virginity”), and current guidelines for PAP smears.

Ruth Westheimer and Lila Nachtigall bring decades of intelligence to this discussion, backed up, in Dr. Nachtigall’s experience, by massive research on various aspects of women’s health. There is a lot more to learn from these dynamic leaders.

-Lida Orzeck, Hanky Panky Co-Founder and CEO

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Why Hanky Panky Supports The Pink Agenda

Hanky Panky is a proud supporter of The Pink Agenda

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Through the end of October, save 20% on select pink styles on hankypanky.com. Hanky Panky was one of the sponsors of The Pink Agenda’s 2014 fundraising gala.

Even a cursory glance at the Philanthropy page on hankypanky.com will tell you two important things about Hanky Panky. One, we have a whole lotta heart for women and young people (and veterans, artists, animals and the environment, in no particular order). And two, we are as savvy about giving as we are about intimate apparel.

Case-in-point: Hanky Panky was a proud sponsor of The Pink Agenda‘s 7th annual gala, which took place earlier this month at the IAC Building on 18th Street & 11th Avenue in Manhattan.

IAC Building

The Pink Agenda’s 2014 gala was held in a building that itself testifies to what human ingenuity can achieve when it’s backed by money. Designed by Frank Gehry and completed in 2007, the IAC Building is a dream realized – stacked glass helices that should not stand up, but somehow do, and create space and light in the midst of a concrete jungle. Photo courtesy of The Pink Agenda.


The gala is one of the two major fundraising events that The Pink Agenda, a public charity, holds every year to raise money for breast cancer research and care. In addition to providing monetary support, Hanky Panky donated several pairs of its beloved Signature Lace Low Rise Thong, in three winning shades of pink. The thongs made up part of an “Uptown Girl” goody basket that was auctioned at the gala. In total, The Pink Agenda raised more than $250,000 at this year’s gala.

"Uptown Girl" pack auctioned at The Pink Agenda's 7th Annual Gala

Hanky Panky, Louboutin, and other coveted brands donated goodies for an “Uptown Girl” pack that was auctioned at The Pink Agenda’s 7th Annual Gala. Photo by Michael Blanchard, courtesy of The Pink Agenda.

With hundreds of nonprofits in the United States dedicated to raising money for breast cancer research, patient care and public awareness, why did Hanky Panky choose to support The Pink Agenda?

For starters, The Pink Agenda focuses on engaging young professionals in the fight against breast cancer. Founded by three young women with diverse professional experience in finance, government, legal marketing and advertising, TPA is keenly aware of what young professionals can offer the cause: disposable income and, equally important, networking and other practical skills that make them excellent volunteers and fundraisers. TPA’s target audience makes them a natural partner for Hanky Panky, for whom professional women are a key customer. Hanky Panky’s classic thong and lace tops were designed in the mid-1980s with working women in mind (see our post on “Layering with Lace“), and the brand is still wildly popular among professional women of all ages today.

The Pink Agenda's founders

The three women who founded The Pink Agenda in 2007 (left to right): Liana Douillet Guzman, Jaquelyn Scharnick and Marisa Renee Lee. Photo by Michael Blanchard, courtesy of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

The Pink Agenda also spends their money wisely. TPA’s research grants fund clinical and/or translational breast cancer research projects vetted by The Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s board of scientific advisors, and their direct care grants fund a treatment program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts that is specifically tailored to young women with breast cancer.

Giuliana Rancic, E! News anchor and founder of Fab-U-Wish.

The Pink Agenda also supports FAB-U-WISH, an initiative established by breast cancer survivor and E! News anchor Giuliana Rancic. Photo by Michael Blanchard, courtesy of The Pink Agenda.

Finally, The Pink Agenda hits the ball out of the park when it comes to financial efficiency, no small feat in the nonprofit world. A review of TPA’s 2012 Form 990 shows that, in that year, more than 90% of their expenditures were program-related, an all-volunteer staff kept their administrative expenses to less than $1,000/year, and TPA’s fundraising expenses were reasonable in proportion to their total contributions.

All in, Hanky Panky is very proud to support The Pink Agenda.

-Clara

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Throngs of Thongs

Hanky Panky’s 34th annual Sample Sale was a smashing success!

Thong Board @ Hanky Panky's 34th annual NYC Sample Sale

Shoppers at Hanky Panky’s 34th annual NYC Sample Sale ordered their favorite thongs from the Thong Board, choosing from over 60 colors and prints. Photo courtesy of Vox Media, Inc. and Racked.com.

For our customers, it was like being a kid in a candy shop: a gluttonous feast of thongs, panties, bras, camisoles and nighties in more than 60 vibrant colors and patterns on the softest stretch lace, cotton and modal, all for significantly below the retail price. Mothers and daughters, princesses and Riot grrrls, all found treasures to take home. (To sign-up for email notifications about our 2015 Sample Sale, please email us at contact-us@hankypanky.com.)

For the company, the Sample Sale has always been about the customer. Hosting a three-day sample sale in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood is not cheap, especially when you go to the lengths that we do to provide a good customer experience with an organized and well-stocked sales floor manned by knowledgeable staff. So when the prices are this low, you gotta figure the Sample Sale is about more than just dollars and cents. When I asked co-founder and President Gale Epstein about this last year, she said to me: “We really do it for our customers.” This year, co-founder and CEO Lida Orzeck, who worked behind the cash register at the Sample Sale for three days running, told me that our customers’ pleasure in being able to snag more of the lingerie they love was “palpable.” Lida, Gale, our designers and manufacturing staff also value the chance to speak face-to-face with the women who wear Hanky Panky, and hear what they have to say about the product.

Thong Board at Hanky Panky's 34th annual Sample Sale in NYC

Today, Hanky Panky’s annual Sample Sale in NYC draws thousands more shoppers than our first sample sale did in 1980, but some things never change: it’s still a treat for our customers.

For me, an incidental but important benefit of the Sample Sale was bonding with colleagues. Other companies host parties at fancy restaurants or send employees on executive retreats to boost morale and cooperation. Here at Hanky Panky, we all pitch in once a year at the Sample Sale to pick & pack thong orders, restock boyshort bins, advise brides-to-be and their maids on bridal lingerie, and, following our CEO’s lead, work the cash register. By some magic that feels unique to this smaller underwear company, the simple pleasure of a job well done, for our customers and each other, is all we need to keep the pep in our step.

-Clara

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Hanky Panky After Midnight® Now Available in Plus Sizes!

We are so excited to announce the addition of several styles from our Hanky Panky After Midnight® line of ultra-sexy lingerie in plus sizes! New styles include our open-panel cheeky hipster and low rise open-panel thong in black, tulip pink, and leopard print, an open-crotch signature lace teddy with flirty bows and keyholes, and a soft and super-sheer babydoll with matching g-string in our peek-a-boo lace.
Check out the collection below!

Available Now:

Hanky Panky After Midnight® Plus Size Signature Lace Keyhole Open Teddy

Signature Lace Keyhole Open Teddy

Sultry crotchless thong-back teddy with functional satin ribbon ties at the neckline. Available in sizes 1X (16W-18W), 2X (20W-22W), and 3X (24W-26W).

Hanky Panky After Midnight® Plus-size crotchless thong panty

Plus Size Signature Lace Crotchless Thong

Crotchless thong with a scintillating opening that leaves little to the imagination. One-size Plus fits sizes 14-24 (hips measuring 44″-57″ best).

Hanky Panky After Midnight® Plus Size Signature Lace Crotchless Cheeky Hipster

Signature Lace Crotchless Cheeky Hipster

Signature lace crotchless cheeky hipster with an alluring back keyhole and bow, and a scintillating opening that leaves little to the imagination. Available in sizes 1X (16W-18W), 2X (20W-22W), and 3X (24W-26W).

Hanky Panky After Midnight® Plus Sized Peek-a-Boo Lace Babydoll

Peek-a-Boo Lace Babydoll

 Sexy and sheer babydoll nighty features a V-neckline, empire-waist, flared skirt and a satin bow. Comes with matching one-size plus G-string. Available in sizes 1X (16W-18W), 2X (20W-22W), and 3X (24W-26W).

Coming soon:

Leopard Print Plus Size Signature Lace Crotchless Thong

Leopard Print Plus Size Signature Lace Crotchless Thong

Crotchless thong in sexy leopard print. One-size Plus fits sizes 14-24 (hips measuring 44″-57″ best).

Leopard Print Plus Size Signature Lace Crotchless Cheeky Hipster

Leopard Print Plus Size Signature Lace Crotchless Cheeky Hipster

Signature lace crotchless cheeky hipster in sexy leopard print. Available in sizes 1X (16W-18W), 2X (20W-22W), and 3X (24W-26W).

Stay tuned for even more new additions to our Plus Size line over the next month or so.

-Larissa, Senior Designer

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Thong Diary: Any Woman Who Says She Likes Thongs Is Lying


I am sure you hear stories like this all the time but I just wanted to share that we have yet another convert for the World’s Most Comfortable Thong®…

I was talking to a childhood friend and was asking her about her preference between a thong and a boyshort. She argued with me saying things like “Any woman who says they like thongs is lying.” and compared it to a woman who ”prefers heels over flats only instead of heels it’s a string hiked up your crack” to illustrate how uncomfortable she thinks they are. (She has no problem expressing her opinion.)

I insisted I could change her mind…So I gave her a Hanky Panky Low Rise Thong after her impromptu wedding. She texted me yesterday and said she wanted to call and congratulate me because “no one in 31 years had won the thong argument with her but I’ve done it and she is now obsessed!”

-Sarah, Hanky Panky’s Sr. Controller and Financial Analyst

Do you have a Hanky Panky story you’d like to share? Submit it to thongdiary@hankypanky.com. If it is featured in the diary, we will send you a complimentary gift!

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Layering With Lace

Every year, when summer ends and fall begins, women from New York to Minnesota ask themselves the same question: how can I dress warmly without looking like Randy in A Christmas Story (1983)?

Years ago, Gale Epstein, Hanky Panky’s President and Creative Director, taught me the trick of staying warm without bulking up or sacrificing feminine flair: layering with lace. Lace insulates and adds a dressy touch to your favorite fall and winter jackets and sweaters.

Hanky Panky’s Sportwear line began in one of the most venerable periods in fashion history: the 1980s. Says Gale:

Our long sleeved lace tops grew out of the underwear-as-outerwear trend we launched in the mid 1980s. These were camisoles and tops made of lingerie laces that peeked out of the power-suiting jackets women wore to the workplace. They filled a void at the time but the category has now extended to the very casual layering trends of this century.

Hanky Panky’s Fall 2014 collection includes several pieces that are perfect for fall layering, from Signature Lace classics such as the Unlined Cami and Long Sleeved Top, to the three new styles in our Sportswear line:

Long Sleeve Scoop Neck Top in Ariel Lace. Style No. 9BT324. $59 on hankypanky.com.

Long Sleeve Scoop Neck Top in Ariel Lace. Style No. 9BT324. $59 on hankypanky.com.

 Cowl Neck Top in Lyocell with a Leavers Lace front panel. Style No. 48T504. $68 on hankypanky.com.

Cowl Neck Top in Lyocell with a Leavers Lace front panel. Style No. 48T504. $68 on hankypanky.com.
Cardigan in Lyocell with Leavers Lace front panels. Style No. 48J304. $89 on hankypanky.com.

Cardigan in Lyocell with Leavers Lace front panels. (Style No. 48J304. $89 on hankypanky.com.) Leavers Lace is made in Rhode Island on looms designed over 100 years ago, and so retains a hand-made look.

Hanky Panky’s Creative team also pulled together three ensembles to show you how to build “dressed” but comfy outfits this fall, using a few choice layering pieces from Hanky Panky ($48-$89), and your existing wardrobe.

Pink Zoe Long Sleeve Scoop Neck Top in Signature Lace. Style No. 8H4124. $65 on hankypanky.com.

Dress up your favorite black blazer with our Pink Zoe Long Sleeve Scoop Neck Top in Signature Lace (Style No. 8H4124. $65 on hankypanky.com). Shown here with a vintage black wool Ann Taylor jacket and amethyst necklace from Tiffany.

New for Fall 2014! Hanky Panky Cardigan in Lyocell and Leavers Lace panels (Style No. 48J304, $89), over our BARE Scoop Neck Tank in Taupe (Style No. 6J4354).  Available on hankypanky.com.

New for Fall 2014! Hanky Panky Cardigan in Lyocell and Leavers Lace (Style No. 48J304, $89), over our BARE Scoop Neck Tank in Taupe (Style No. 6J4354, $48). Available on hankypanky.com.

Two Signature Lace Classics: Unlined Cami (Style No. 1390L, $48) and Long Sleeve Top (Style Non. 128L).

A customer favorite, our Signature Lace Classic Cami (Style No. 1390L, $48), layers beautifully under jackets, sweaters, button-downs and other tops, including our Signature Lace Long Sleeve Top (Style No. 128L, $48). The Classic Cami is currently available in 17 colors on hankypanky.com, and is an easy way to add a pop of color to your outfit.

-Clara, Larissa, Senior Designer, Carrie & Anna

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Hanky Panky Fall 2014 Inspiration: Grand Bazaar

Hanky Panky Fall 2014

Hanky Panky’s Fall 2014 collection evokes a marketplace at the crossroads of the world. New Signature Lace colors include African Violet , Moroccan Sunset, Turkish Tile, Lotus Pink, Dove Gray, Cappuccino Brown, Nori, Angora Red, Ivy, and Gold. New BARE colors are Mahogany and Crimson.

Stand Out Subtly
The first delivery of Fall pairs the inconspicuous with the bright and bold. Prints include Hunter, a modern camouflage and Wonderfleur, a fiery floral.

A Common Thread
The second delivery of Fall 2014 is inspired by richly patterned textiles. This delivery features Blue Paisley, inspired by hand-woven Kashmiri shawls, and Tapestry, a large-scale floral with a unique and contemporary color palette.

Midnight in Milan
The third delivery of Fall 2014 juxtaposes classic florals and modern geometrics. Prints include Bloom, a rich rose print on a dark ground, and Pink Zoe, a femme chevron in shades of grey and pink.

More is More
The fourth delivery of Fall 2014 (coming mid-September) is unabashedly luxurious. Prints include Roary, a bold and colorful large-scale animal print, and Chinois, a rich print inspired by imperial Chinese embroideries.

-Larissa, Senior Designer

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Made in America

Labor Day is an outgrowth of the late 19th century labor movement, and the first Monday of September retains its central character as a day of national tribute to the contributions that American workers make to the prosperity of our country.

This Labor Day, I found myself thinking of the men and women who cut, sew, test the quality of, and pick and pack Hanky Panky garments in and near our warehouse facility in Hollis, Queens, New York. What are the unique challenges faced by American workers in our domestic apparel manufacturing industry? Well, for starters, finding and keeping a job in your field would be a lot harder today than it was even 20 years ago. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the apparel manufacturing industry declined by more than 80 percent (from about 900,000 to 150,000 jobs) from 1990 to 2011. So the role of companies like Hanky Panky, which has manufactured in New York since 1977, in providing employment for American apparel workers, is more important then ever.

And what challenges do American clothing companies like Hanky Panky face when they commit to making their garments in the United States from materials grown and made here?

For answers, I turned to Nina Myers McCammon, author of 50 States of Style: A Celebration of American Made + American Beauty, a blog that covers the best of American-made consumer goods. Nina has a knack for ferreting out beautiful and useful objects for home and body, as well as the stories behind them. In addition to well-written, informative and stunningly photographed articles on home decor, home improvement, fashion and beauty, 50 States of Style includes interviews with the designers and small business owners who make the products featured in the blog. (See Nina’s recent interview with Hanky Panky’s President & Creative Director, Gale Epstein.) Who better than Nina to give us insight to the challenges and rewards of American apparel manufacturing?

Q: What first got you interested in American-made apparel?

Nina: My time working at Country Living Magazine as a market editor had a huge impact on me and inspired my love of American-made; not just apparel, but accessories, beauty products, and home goods, too. I love meeting with and hearing makers’ personal stories and supporting their mission. I also have to add that the quality of an American-made product tends to be better. I’d rather pay a little bit more for something that I know will last.

Q: Do American consumers really care about where their clothing is made? Do consumers care more now than they used to? What do you think the driving concerns are, from the consumer perspective: product quality, safe working conditions and fair wages for garment workers, environmental compliance, or other?

Nina: I think the average consumer cares more than ever but is conflicted; on the one hand, they want to keep American manufacturing strong in the global economy, but ultimately the best price wins. As we know, a Made in the USA label can mean a higher premium. I’d say most Americans are concerned with creating jobs here, followed closely by fair wages and safe working conditions for garment workers and the environment. I would love for us to get to the point where we care as much about where our clothing comes from as, say, our food. But it’s a growing movement and I believe we’re getting closer. In terms of fair labor, the conditions in some factories are downright shameful, but sadly, since we’re so far-removed from where our clothing is made, it can be easier (not easy: easier) to overlook the conditions in which it was made.

Q: What do you see as the biggest pros to local manufacturing for American clothing designers?

Nina: The ability to develop a close relationship with the workers and families you’re helping to support. The convenience of being able to jump on the phone or simply drive over to your factory to have a conversation in person about what is and isn’t working is invaluable, i.e. quality control.

Q: What are the biggest challenges?

Nina: Unfortunately finding skilled sewers that people can hang on to. Also, scalability since many American designers start out quite small with limited resources. Finally, educating consumers about the benefits of American-made (higher price-tag perhaps, but higher quality).

Q: In your view, which USA-made apparel companies have done the best job of managing these challenges? Of educating the consumer about the pros to buying USA-made?

Nina: Nanette Lepore has been quite outspoken about the importance of manufacturing here and has done a tremendous job rallying annually for Save the Garment Center. And even though Pierrepont Hicks started out as a men’s accessories company, their ambitious roving national pop-up markets (Northern Grade) have brought so much exposure to smaller, quality American brands. They’ve been all over the country, from New York to LA and Minnesota to Austin, and are incredibly supportive of the USA movement.

-Clara

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