American Values at Work

For American values in action, look no further than Hanky Panky:

Hard work, dedication to excellence, and equal opportunity are not uniquely American values, but their realization in this country is cause for celebration today.

For Hanky Panky customers, Made in America means unparalleled quality. We manufacture in New York, a stone’s throw from our corporate offices. Our Signature Lace is knitted at mills in the Northeast, and the cotton used in the gussets of our thongs and panties is grown in the Southwest. All of this means that Gale Epstein, our co-founder, President and Creative Director, can follow her perfectionist’s heart and work closely with fabric cutters, seamstresses, and fabric suppliers on every garment we make.

Local manufacturing also offers Gale and Lida Orzeck, Hanky Panky’s co-founder and CEO, the opportunity to build community while they build a business. In its 38-year history, Hanky Panky has weathered five economic recessions without a single round of lay-offs. When we invested in a high-tech cutting machine a while back, we trained our fabric cutters to relax and inspect the lace, rather than letting them go. As Lida said in a recent Fashionista article:

Gale and I are interested in running a healthy, well-regarded business — not the biggest company on the planet. . . [W]e could be a lot bigger. But we are happy to be here. We are running the show and we want to have a comfortable company that runs as a team.

But don’t take my word for it.  Come meet the people behind the panties.

Somboon, a Hanky Panky seamstress who specializes in elastic lace trims, has been with the company for 20 years. "We work like a family," says Somboon. Photo courtesy of Brian Goldman.

Somboon, a Hanky Panky seamstress who specializes in elastic lace trims, has been with the company for 20 years. “We work like a family,” says Somboon. Photo courtesy of Brian Goldman.

Somboon sews the elastic lace trim along the bottom edges of our thongs and panties. Somboon’s work is essential to the correct fit of these garments — too loose and your underwear won’t stay in place; too tight and it will pinch. She learned these skills at Hanky Panky, where she has worked for 20 years.

Leonard, who has been with Hanky Panky for about 5 years, receives cut work and bundles it together for the seamstresses. Leonard's work is "like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle," says Gale Epstein, Hanky Panky's co-founder and President & Creative Director. Photo by Brian Goldman.

Leonard, who has been with Hanky Panky for three years, coordinates cut work for production lots. Leonard’s work is “like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle,” says Gale. Photo by Brian Goldman.

Leonard coordinates cut work for production lots. (Cut work is the pieces of fabric that are cut to a pattern and later sewn together to make a garment.) Leonard’s work requires a precise understanding of size scales and color sequence, and is the basis for our correct accounting of the yardage used in production. “Leonard is also very creative,” says Gale, proudly showing me the elegant men’s bow ties that Leonard made from lace remnants, which created a lot of buzz at a recent executive management meeting.

Maggie, Hanky Panky's sample cutter, has been with the company for 13 years. "If Hanky Panky wasn't made here in New York, where would I be?" Photo by Brian Goldman.

Maggie, Hanky Panky’s sample cutter, has been with the company for 13 years. “If Hanky Panky wasn’t made here in New York, where would I be?”she asked. Photo by Brian Goldman.

Maggie has been Hanky Panky’s sample fabric cutter for 13 years.  I first met Maggie in the “picking” room at the 2012 sample sale. Flooded with thong orders from busy shoppers, Maggie’s calm, patient, centered self kept things moving, even though, at that point, I couldn’t tell the difference between and Original Rise and a Low Rise thong.  Thanks to Maggie, I saw then what makes me love working here now: “We get along like a family,” said Maggie. “Each day, we try to make each other happy, to help each other do our work.  If you are not happy, you can’t produce.”

Clara

Special thanks to Brian Goldman for his stunning photographs of Hanky Panky employees at work.  See more at: http://www.goldmanpictures.com/Photographs/Commissions/1/thumbs

About Hanky Panky

In 1977, designer Gale Epstein created a hand-made lingerie set for her friend, Lida Orzeck, crafted out of embroidered handkerchiefs. The original designs were the inspiration for the company name, Hanky Panky. Blending traditional with modern glam looks, Hanky Panky is a fashion favorite of countless celebrities.
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