Inspiration Behind the Print: Heirloom Roses

The author has known people to wrinkle up their noses and say, “Old rose? Who would want an old rose?”, as if we were discussing an aged sheep or yesterday’s sandwich. These roses are not old in that way . . . They were simply developed “of old” . . . The breeding which produced them could have taken place in 1990 as easily as in 1890–but the eye which selected them as being desirable material was an eye trained in the aesthetics of another time. –Brent C. Dickerson, The Old Rose Advisor, Vol. I, 2nd ed. (Nebraska: Authors Choice Press, 2001)

Constance Spry, an English shrub rose bred by David Austin and known for its strong myrrh fragrance. Photo of a rose in my mother’s garden in Tarrytown, New York.

Hanky Panky’s newest print for the summer, Vintage Rose, captures several of the qualities for which heirloom rose varieties are beloved by gardeners: a dense flower filled with petals; the rambling, open growth pattern of a shrub; and soft hues that easily combine with other plantings in the garden to create a harmonious whole.

Hanky Panky’s Signature Lace Camisole in Vintage Rose (Style No. 3P4252)

“All my roses are heirlooms,” says my mother, an amateur gardener who designed, built and planted the cottage garden surrounding her fixer-upper Gothic Victorian home in Tarrytown, New York. “They are hardier and have beautiful scents,” she notes, and the soft colors and less formal shape of Old Rose bushes are simply “prettier in the garden.”

For one amateur gardener, collecting vintage gardening books, the best of which include stunning chromolithograph illustrations of flowers and plants, was a natural outgrowth of reading about heirloom roses. “I just like old fashioned things,” she said.

For those of you prefer the long-stemmed, polished look of the modern rose, see Hanky Panky’s Thong Roses in Red, White and Very Berry.

Hanky Panky Thong Roses, available in Original Rise Thong (Style No. 4811RB) and Low Rise Thong (Style No. 4911RB).

If you live in an urban area or are otherwise still in the aspirational phase of your gardening career, there are public rose gardens currently in bloom.  In the Tristate area, visit the the award-winning Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at The New York Botanical Garden, The Cranford Rose Garden at The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, or the Rose Garden at Lyndhurst, an historic mansion and estate in Tarrytown, New York.

-Clara

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Equestrian Tweet

Hanky Panky Co-founder & Creative Director Gale Epstein riding her horse, Hudson in upstate New York

Hanky Panky Co-founder & Creative Director Gale Epstein riding her horse, Hudson in upstate New York

We recently received a tweet that warmed my heartAn equestrian customer had tried many other brands of panties for riding and found our style 4812 to be the best solution for comfort, practicality and appearance.

Hanky Panky 4812 Signature Lace Boyshort

Hanky Panky 4812 Signature Lace Boyshort

As an avid equestrian, I’m equally aware of my comfort in the saddle as my horse’s comfort under the saddle. When you’re both comfortable, you have your best ride. I’ve always found our style 4812 boyshort to the best solution under riding pants. Indeed, I designed it with that use in mind. They show no VPL (visible panty line), they stay in place and they’re pretty.

Hanky Panky BARE Boyshort

Hanky Panky BARE Boyshort

I’ve found my next “go-to” riding panty to be our just-launched BARE boy short. It’s made of a fine Italian micro-knit nylon/Lycra® spandex and with clean-cut edges is even more invisible. Ideal for the show ring!

Good luck and happy trails,

Gale

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The Perfect Pair: Mothers and Daughters Wear Hanky Panky

Image courtesy of VintageHolidayCrafts.com

I learned my most important lessons from my mother: “Look at the data” (she’s an economics reporter turned biographer); “In work, follow your interests; in love, listen to your mother”; “Let your conscience be your guide”; and, “In shoes and clothes, quality pays for itself ten times over . . . and if you “borrow” my suede Prada kitten heels one more time without asking, consider yourself orphaned.”

My mother gave me my first Hanky Panky Signature Lace Original Rise Thong for Christmas more than ten years ago. Like many of our customers, I never looked back. Out went the scratchy, wedgie-making, VPL-causing and “save for date with man” panties, and in came brightly hued and brilliantly patterned lace, cotton and microfiber thongs, boyshorts and panties from Hanky Panky.  Making over my underwear drawer, I learned another valuable lesson from my mom, about comfort, self-love and not compromising where it counts.

Designing underthings that are adored by mothers and daughters (and sometimes grandmothers and granddaughters) alike is no small feat.  But before drinking the Kool-Aid, I surveyed girlfriends and coworkers to find out if Hanky Panky also spanned generations in their families.

  • Ila, granddaughter of Evalyn, mother of Shayna: “Four generations of women in my family wear Hanky Panky. My grandmother, at 92 years old, is a fan of the Retro V-Kini. One day when Grandma was in the hospital, a nurse helping Grandma with her clothes exclaimed: “What beautiful underwear!” Grandma told her proudly that they were Hanky Panky, and that I worked there. And here is a video of my daughter, Shayna, dancing to the Hanky Panky song.”
  • Ank, mother of Michele: “My favorite style is the Retro Thong. It is sexy and covers a bit of the belly.”

    Michele, Ank’s daughter:
    Hanky Panky thongs are the one item in my wardrobe that I could not live without. There’s nothing else in the world that can make you feel sexy and be so comfortable at the same time!”
  • Camille, daughter of Patricia: “My mother never thought lace could be so comfortable and flattering. The Retro V-kini is now her go-to panty!”
  • Lisa, Chloe’s mother: “I love all our thongs.  My daughter Chloe is many, many years away from wearing our bottoms, but she is drawn to our bright colors and prints and loves sharing something with Mommy (that’s me).  So I let Chloe raid my drawers for camisoles, which she layers over her pajamas.”
  • Barbara, Victoria’s mother: “I wear the Retro V-Kini and feel like I’m wearing nothing at all!”

Victoria, Barbara’s daughter: “I wear the boyshorts.  The prints are so cool.”

  • Kathleen, mother of Kateri: “The Original Rise Thong is the most comfortable underwear I’ve ever worn.”

Kateri, daughter of Kathleen: “The boyshort is so hipster and comfy.”

  • Sylvia, Clara’s mother (for the moment, subject to return of those suede Prada kitten heels): “I love the Original Rise, and ALL the colors.”

Clara, Sylvia’s daughter: “Thanks Mom. I owe you a lot. You didn’t stop at giving me life, you gave me Hanky Panky.”

-Clara

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Charles James: Chelsea Couture

Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978) "Four Leaf Clover" Evening Dress, 1953 White silk satin, white silk faille, black silk-rayon velvet The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Elizabeth Fairall, 1953 (C.I.53.73)

Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978)
“Four Leaf Clover” Evening Dress, 1953
White silk satin, white silk faille, black silk-rayon velvet
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Elizabeth Fairall, 1953 (C.I.53.73)

When I first moved to New York City as a student in 1966, I serendipitously landed a room in the Chelsea Hotel. At the time, there were many luminaries from the arts who resided there and it was possible to literally rub elbows with them in the elevator. My roommate, also a  fashion student, and I were lucky enough to meet the legendary fashion designer, Charles James, and visit him in the apartment where he lived and worked. The main room was dominated by an enormous, cluttered work table with many projects in various stages. We knew we were experiencing a special moment in history.

It is with great respect to that history that I recommend visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the comprehensive presentation of Charles James’ extraordinary work and learn his unique fashion philosophy.

Another highlight of that time for me was meeting (and occasionally joining his entourage) another hotel resident, the most talented fashion illustrator of all time, Antonio Lopez, who illustrated many of Charles James designs.  Some of these illustrations grace the Charles James exhibit.

 -Gale Epstein, Co-Founder and Creative Director, Hanky Panky Ltd.

Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978) "Butterfly" Ball Gown, ca. 1955 Brown silk chiffon, cream silk satin, brown silk satin, dark brown nylon tulle The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Fund, 2013 (2013.591)

Charles James (American, born Great Britain, 1906–1978)
“Butterfly” Ball Gown, ca. 1955
Brown silk chiffon, cream silk satin, brown silk satin, dark brown nylon tulle
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Friends of The Costume Institute Fund, 2013 (2013.591)

Charles James: Beyond Fashion is on view at the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through August 10th.

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Gloria Steinem’s 80th Birthday Bash

By Warren K. Leffler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Gloria Steinem at news conference, Women’s Action Alliance, January 12, 1972

Gloria Steinem turned 80 on March 25, 2014 and hundreds of women were at Cipriani in New York on May 1, 2014 to enthusiastically celebrate her birthday at the 2014 Gloria Awards, which also saluted 40 Years of the Ms. Foundation.

The founder of the Ms. foundation and now icon of the feminist movement did not hog the stage—she yielded to musical performances by BETTY, Sophie B. Hawkins, Samia Najimy Finnerty and Dominique Fishback; and sophisticated contemporary comedy by Chelsea Handler and Amy Schumer.

Actress Gabourey Sidibe shared very personal insight concerning the development of her considerable self-confidence. Plus the surprising fact that she is the niece of Dorothy Pitman Hughes!

‘Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pitman Hughes’ photographer Dan Wynn

There is still much work to be done in this country to achieve gender equality. Last night’s event honored those who are dedicated to achieving that goal.

-Lida Orzeck, Hanky Panky Co-Founder and CEO

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Man Overboard! Fashion and the Breton Stripe

A French sailor in uniform, circa 1910. The marinière, a long-sleeved knit undershirt with blue and white horizontal stripes, became part of the French Naval uniform in 1858. (Author unknown. Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

A French sailor in uniform, circa 1910. The marinière, a long-sleeved knit undershirt with blue and white horizontal stripes, became part of the French Naval uniform in 1858. (Author unknown. Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel knew a good thing when she saw it. In late 1923, Chanel dined with the 2nd Duke of Westminster on the Duke’s yacht, the Flying Cloud, then moored off the coast of Monte Carlo. The Duke’s title, strapping good looks, charm and immense wealth—he was the richest man in Britain—would have turned the head of any ordinary gal, but Chanel’s approbation instead focused on the uniforms worn by the Duke’s 40-man yacht crew. “Navy and white are the only possible colours,” Chanel remarked after the dinner, because they were “[t]he Navy’s colours” (Justine Picardie, Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life New York: Harper Collins Publishers Inc., 2010).

A few months later, Chanel incorporated blue and white horizontal stripes in the costumes she designed for Le Train bleu, a ballet performed by the Ballet Russe in Paris in June 1924. Chanel’s costumes, and the stage curtain painted by Picasso, perfectly captured the French Riviera before the Second World War and the intended scene for the ballet—“a popular beach where wealthy people paraded around, having a good time, sunbathing, and mincing about”.

Chanel’s biographer, Justine Picardie, notes that Chanel had already captured Riviera chic, later epitomized in the blue-and-white horizontal stripe pattern known as the Breton Stripe, in “the sports clothes that [Chanel] popularized in the resorts of Cannes, Deauville and Biarritz: striped tricots and bathing suits, beach sandals and golf shoes, tennis dresses and shorts” (Picardie, Coco Chanel.)

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel in a marinière top circa 1928. Coco Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier are among the major French designers who made the Breton Stripe iconic. (Author unknown. Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel in a marinière top circa 1928. “Coco” Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier are among the major French designers who made the Breton Stripe iconic. (Photographer unknown. Source: Wikimedia Commons.)

While Gabrielle Chanel is often given full credit for popularizing this style, she was not the only non-sailor to adopt the breton stripe as a resort staple in the 1920s.

The origin of the Breton Stripe, the bright, clean, classic and jazzy pattern used in Sailor Stripe, the newest print in Hanky Panky’s Summer 2014 collection, is in fact French and nautical.

Hanky Panky Sailor Stripe Collection

Hanky Panky Sailor Stripe Collection

The marinière, a striped, long-sleeved knit top in cotton jersey, became a mandatory part of the French Naval uniform in March 1858. The adopting decree provided that “the body of the shirt should have 21 white stripes, each twice as wide as the [ten millimeter wide] 20-21 indigo blue stripes.” Some say that the marinière’s white-and-blue stripes were easier to see under water, therefore increasing the odds for a sailor who had fallen overboard. Others say that the 21 white stripes represented Napoleon’s naval victories.

-Clara

 

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Ovaltine Dreams: Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

John Henry Belter (American, born Germany, 1804-1863). Bed, ca. 1856. Rosewood, Headboard: 65 1/2 x 58 1/2 in. (166.4 x 148.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Ernest Vietor, 39.30. Creative Commons-BY

John Henry Belter (American, born Germany, 1804-1863). Bed, ca. 1856. Rosewood, Headboard: 65 1/2 x 58 1/2 in. (166.4 x 148.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mrs. Ernest Vietor, 39.30. Creative Commons-BY

Methought I heard a voice cry ‘Sleep no more!/ Macbeth does murder sleep’, the innocent sleep,/ Sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleeve of care,/ The death of each day’s life, sore labour’s bath,/ Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course,/ Chief nourisher in life’s feast,–Macbeth, Act II, Sc. II

No surprise that Macbeth only appreciated the physical, cognitive and emotional benefits of a good night’s sleep after his late night foray into regicide left him permanently sleep-deprived. Is Macbeth just a typical guy, not knowing what he’s got till it’s gone? Well, truth is, I only began to pay attention to my sleep habits when, beginning in my late 20s, I could no longer fall asleep easily or stay asleep for more than a few hours at a time.

Knowing that life’s thorniest problems can be solved with the right clothes, I first tackled insomnia by treating myself to beautiful nightgowns and jamies. And I do recommend our cotton, Supima® cotton and new Lyocell sleep sets and nightshirts for a comfortable and stylish stay in the Land of Nod.

Hanky Panky Lyocell Sleepwear

Hanky Panky Lyocell Sleepwear

But if the right clothes just don’t cut it, here are some other sleep tips:

  • Running a small fan at night creates white noise and a cooler temperature, both of which are said to aid sleep;
  • Use your bed for two activities only (sleep and, should you be so lucky, sex);
  • Make your bedroom a clean and clutter-free oasis of calm (that’s right, don’t keep your Amex bill on your nightstand);
  • Turn off your T.V., computer, Ipad and Blackberry an hour or more before your head hits the pillow, because the screen glare and stimulation send the wrong message to your body (“Wake up! It’s daytime”);
  • In that last hour before bed, try to create a bedtime routine you can stick to – a regular practice of self-care and relaxation to prepare for sleep.

Here are more sleep tips and bedtime routines from Hanky Panky staff, friends and family:

Bergamot is soothing, with a reputation for sleep inducing. In a small spray bottle, combine  the essential oil with the cheapest vodka you can find and spray on your pillow before climbing into bed. If you still can’t sleep, a swig of vodka may do the trick . . . Gale, President & Creative Director, Hanky Panky

My bedtime routine usually begins with a quick but relaxing bath, followed by comfortable pajamas (usually a tank and pj pants), and a quick spritz of Givenchy’s “Tartine et Chocolat” (a children’s perfume that smells amazing but very light). After the lights are turned off around the apartment, cats’ food and water is topped off, and both daughters get one last kiss, I climb the stairs to my room and slide into bed (love all white sheets). Sometimes I read for a bit before falling asleep.  Teresa, 10th grade English teacher & mother of two, Queens, NY

What works for me goes against what all the sleep experts say.  I leave the TV on, with the one-hour sleep timer, preferably playing reruns of Seinfeld episodes I’ve already seen. Works like a charm. Christie, Ecommerce Associate & Customer Service Extraordinaire, Hanky Panky

I get in bed with my journal, and write about one thing I’m grateful for.  This has, on occasion, been “my friend who gave me a pretty little thing from Hanky Panky today.”  Janise, Badass Attorney, San Francisco, CA

I sleep with the window open a crack, even on cold nights. Cecile, Sales Associate & Customer Liason, Purveyor of Tried & True Advice, Hanky Panky

My nighttime routine is a must for boarding the ship S.S. Dreamland. First, earplugs to block out city noise and car alarms. Second, an eye mask, to block out street lights and early morning sun. Finally, the most essential step of all, call Taffy, my kitten, to share my pillow. Kathleen, Sales Associate, Hanky Panky

-Clara

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Inspiration Behind the Print: Sun Gods

Introducing Golden Sun, the newest print in Hanky Panky's Summer 2014 collection.  Original Bralette (Style No. 3J7422) with Low Rise Thong (3J1582).

Introducing Golden Sun, the newest print in Hanky Panky’s Summer 2014 collection. Original Bralette (Style No. 3J7422) with Low Rise Thong (3J1582).

Hanky Panky’s latest print, Golden Sun, may be fresh on the scene, apropos of fashion’s current fetish with metallic, but sun-worship is as old as the gods.

According to Wikipedia.org’s list of 96 solar deities, sun gods and goddesses were central to many ancient religions and cultures and are still worshiped in some major religions today, such as Hinduism. (That’s right, for practicing Hindus, the Surya namaska, or sun salutation, is more than a series of poses in a morning yoga class; it’s a way to worship Surya, the Hindu solar deity.) The sun’s star role in creation myths is hardly surprising given the major real estate the sun takes up in the sky and the dramatic entrance and exit it makes daily in our lives.

The Sun God Surya, 13th-14th century. Bronze, 5 1/4 x 4 1/2 in. (13.3 x 11.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John Kossak, 78.256.6. Creative Commons-BY

Gnowee, sun goddess of the Wotjobaluk aborigines of south-eastern Australia, perfectly embodies the cycle of loss and hope in sunrise and sunset as she crosses the sky daily with a bark torch, searching for her lost son:

Gnowee, the Sun, was once a woman who lived upon the earth when it was dark all the time.  . . . One day she left her little boy sleeping while she went to dig roots for food. Yams were scarce, and Gnowee wandered so far that she reached the end of the earth, and continuing her wanderings, passed under it and came up on the other side.  Not knowing where she was, as it was dark, she could not find her little boy any more. She has now gone to the sky with a great bark torch, and wanders across it and the earth still looking for him.  Aldo Massola, Bunjil’s Cave: Myths, Legends & Superstitions of the Aborigines of South-East Australia (Melbourne: Lansdowne Press, 1968).

And what better (if slightly creepy) way to acknowledge the sun’s vital, life-giving power than to imagine, as the Aztecs did, that the sun was a self-immolating god who courageously leapt into the flames to burn forever in the service of humanity when none of the other gods wanted the job?

Fans of reality TV will appreciate those myths that explain day and night as the result of sibling rivalry or strained child custody arrangements among gods, including the Inuit story of Malina, goddess of the sun, who crosses the sky over Greenland fleeing from her brother Anningan, the moon, and the Baltic myth of Saulė, the goddess of the sun, and her ex-husband, Mėnuo, god of the moon, who following their divorce spend equal amounts of time with their child, the Earth.

Drama also runs high in the stories about Étaín, the Irish sun goddess, who spent years as a wind-blown butterfly because her husband’s jealous ex-wife just couldn’t let go, and who was later rescued by said husband from a very bad bargain (sleeping with another man, not her husband, out of pity, who said he was “dying of love for her”– puleeze).

Of course, when family drama occurs among the gods, the world can literally burn, as happened when Phaëton, son of Helios, the Ancient Greek Titan god of the sun, took his father’s chariot for a joy ride and crashed.

Head of Helios in High Relief Against a Pedimental Background. Limestone Brooklyn Museum, Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund, 62.148. Creative Commons-BY

-Clara

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Something to Write Home About

Our gift to you!  A hand-lettered, artisanal letterpress Mother’s Day card, courtesy of Hanky Panky and Luna Press, free with any purchase on www.HankyPanky.com, while supplies last.

While supplies last, Hanky Panky is gifting a limited edition, hand-pressed Mother’s Day card with all purchases at HankyPanky.com. (To receive a card, enter the code “MOMSDAY” at checkout.)

Carrie Durand, Hanky Panky’s in-house lettering artist and the proprietor of Luna Press, designed the card and printed a small run on a vintage letterpress in Haverstraw, New York. The “Happy Mother’s Day” message on the front of the card is written in soft, cursive lettering and framed by delicate pink flowers inspired by an art deco textile design. The inside of the card is blank. Each card is hand-numbered and the print run was limited to 100 cards. The cards are printed on 100% recycled cotton rag paper, which has the weight of luxury paper but sits less heavily on the conscience.

Luna Press operates out of the basement of a 20th century carriage house in the historic district of Haverstraw, New York, about one hour’s drive north of New York City in the idyllic Mid-Hudson Valley.

Carrie used custom-built plates (top-right) to press the lettering and floral pattern onto each card.

The card uses two different colored inks: black for the lettering and pink for the framing flowers. Each color requires its own plate, and each card is pressed twice, one time for each color. The press is manually cleaned between print, or color, runs.

Lettering completed! After wiping down the press, Carrie prepared the plate and ink for the pink floral frame and ran the cards through the press a second time.

Carrie at work on your card!  Carrie’s friend Rosey Morris bid on this vintage (1950s-1970s) press on eBay and, lo and behold, won! The press was delivered on a flatbed truck and a crane was needed to lift the press into the house.

Thank you Carrie, for making this very special, artisanal gift for our web customers.

-Clara & Remi

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Moral Manufacturing: How Hanky Panky Reduces, Reuses & Recycles

Every day is Earth Day here at Hanky Panky.

Skeptical?  Hard not to be, when “greenwashing” is so rampant you have to consult the Greenwashing Index before buying dishwashing detergent or tampons.

Well, visit our showroom in Manhattan or our production and warehousing facility in Queens and you will see, as I did in my first week here, that the company that makes The World’s Most Comfortable Thong® is—and always has been—as serious about environmental stewardship as it is about beauty, comfort and quality.

On a meta level, Hanky Panky has a smaller carbon footprint because it manufactures locally and sources nationally (except for the microfiber used in Hanky Panky BARE styles, which we import from Italy). We also use 100% recycled paper and board for our award-winning product packaging, and 100% recycled paper for all of our printers and copy machines. Our designers sketch their initial designs for new products on the back of photocopies, a practice that Gale Epstein, our President & Creative Director, started in 1977, when she used a copy of an early line sheet to write down the recipe for a delicious Eggplant Caponata from Lida Orzeck, our co-founder and Chief Executive Officer.

Lida Orzeck's Eggplant Caponata Recipe (With Gale Epstein's Annotations)

Lida Orzeck’s Eggplant Caponata Recipe (With Gale Epstein’s annotations) on back of one of Hanky Panky’s early line sheets.

But it’s on the micro level that you really begin to see how deep-seated the culture of environmental citizenship is here at Hanky Panky. Don’t look for paper towels in our office bathrooms, for example, because we don’t stock them. Why not? Because paper towels’ low fiber content makes it a relatively poor recyclable, so much of the 13 billion pounds of paper towels used every year in America ends up in our landfills. Hanky Panky employees instead carry their own personal hand towels to the washroom, as the Japanese do, or dry their hands on their jeans. (If you are stuck with paper towels in your office bathroom but want to reduce waste, Joe Smith’s TED Talk, “How to use a paper towel”, is funny and useful.)

To give you an idea of what Hanky Panky does on a day-to-day basis to reduce, reuse and recyle, I interviewed staffers in Production, Quality Control, Shipping, IT and other areas. Here is what they said:

Bernaldo, Senior Plant and Production Manager, Queens, NY:

When I started at Hanky Panky, one of my top priorities was reducing fabric waste. Recently, we invested in a more expensive cutting machine that dramatically reduced the amount of fabric scrap generated in the manufacturing process. And we shred and recycle the small amount of fabric we can’t put to use in products or packaging.

Rodney, Technical Production Manager, Queens, NY:

We work very closely with our sewing contractors to reuse cardboard boxes, plastic bags, paper hangtags and even rubberbands. When a contractor drops off finished goods, we put aside the box and plastic bags and reuse those same materials the next time we deliver fabric cuts to the contractor for sewing. And when the contractor brings back the sewn product, he or she reuses the same boxes and bags. So it’s a cycle of use and use again.

Working with a company that recycles as much as possible strengthened my belief in recycling. I am an active member in my township’s recycling programs, and work at it here at Hanky Panky, too. I have always lived with my grandmother’s saying ringing in my ears, even till this day: WASTE NOT WANT NOT. This applies to preserving our environment, too.

Theron, Warehouse Logistics Manager, Queens, NY:

 All manufacturer-distributors use pallets in shipping, and most pallets are made from wood, which of course comes from trees.  Used pallets also take up a lot of space in landfills. Rather than purchasing new pallets, we reuse the pallets we receive from raw material shipments and, when possible, make minor repairs to extend their useful life.

Michael, Head of IT, Manhattan, NY:

The company’s computing systems used to run on a large number of physical servers. Each server not only required its own power source, it also produced heat, which required cooling, which required more energy. We moved everything over to virtualized servers, which are exponentially more energy efficient. We also pay a vendor to recycle our ink cartridges, electronic equipment and desktop display screens.

Used ink cartridges and other "technotrash" from Hanky Panky's Manhattan office are collected in this box and turned over for recycling to GreenDisk, an outside vendor.

Used ink cartridges and other “technotrash” from Hanky Panky’s Manhattan office are collected in this box and turned over for recycling to GreenDisk, an outside vendor.

Luis, Professor of Prototypes, Manhattan, NY:

In the sewing department, where we sew the first samples for the design team, we reuse thread spindles, boxes, and plastic hangers. My assistant, Pan, who has worked for the company for 29 years, is affectionately called “Mrs. Box,” because she makes everyone on our floor reuse old boxes before making new ones. Pan also comes up with ingenious ways to reuse boxes, e.g., for shelving. Also, we take very good care of our sewing machines so they last longer. Sometimes we still use the vintage Singer that Gale used to create the first Hanky Panky pieces 37 years ago!

Pan, affectionately dubbed “Mrs. Box”, strictly enforces the office rule to reuse cardboard boxes before building new ones.

Gale’s vintage Singer industrial sewing machine, lovingly maintained and still used on occasion.

Spools for lace and trim are set aside and reused for remainders.

Ricardo, Maintenance, Manhattan, NY:

A lot of us bring our food from home and we all wash the communal dishes, silverware and glasses. For staffers who get take-out lunch, we recycle their plastic bottles, forks, paper bags and aluminium foil packaging. The wastebaskets at employees’ desks are only for paper, which I collect at the end of the day for recycling. Listen, Mamí, you are not the first or last employee who sometimes forgets our rules and leaves a Diet Coke bottle in her trash can. But, don’t worry, I’ll remind you again and again until you get it right.

Where did Hanky Panky’s culture of environmental responsibility come from?  The top, of course. When Gale and Lida started the company in 1977, most businesses didn’t have environmental compliance officers or budgets for green marketing. But Gale is a self-described “fanatic” when it comes to conservation:

When we started Hanky Panky in 1977, there was little general acknowledgement of the fledgling environmental movement beyond a fanatic, myself included, core. With the advent of the internet’s rapid dissemination of information and the growing amount of refuse generated by our “disposable” society, more people and corporations are aware of their responsibility to put things in order. We are in a position to educate our employees to make a difference. Ideally this creates a ripple effect.

And what can other entrepreneurial designer-manufacturers do to operate their own businesses in a sustainable way?  Some advice from Lida:

Unfortunately, it is rarely cost effective to do the right thing in terms of sustainability. Even recycled paper for printers costs more than non-recycled paper. However, practicing conservative fiscal policy is responsible behavior that can have a positive impact on the environment in the long run. The apparel industry is frequently defined by excess but a company can choose the alternative in a variety of ways without reducing the value of the brand. One of the ways Hanky Panky reduces waste is to be guided by the following principle:  Measure twice; cut once.

-Clara

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