It is an unusual sight in Midtown Manhattan in 2018 — workers making clothing.
Lida Orzeck and her long time friend Gale Epstein co-founded the Hanky Panky Lingerie Company 40 years ago and are known for creating what's been billed as the world's most comfortable thong. They made a conscious decision to manufacture in New York City — a decision that creates a lot of jobs.
There are 175 people on their payroll and their tentacles spread to independent contractors like sales reps, global distributors, and merchandisers. They have been in their space on Park Avenue South almost since they started. It is where their creations are designed. The lingerie is then manufactured in Queens.
Orzeck and Epstein know they could make more money moving their production overseas, but say there are many other reasons for keeping the business here. From quality control to keeping so many local people employed.
They say you have to be especially disciplined to succeed in the city.
Epstein, the brand's co-founder and creative director, says they never borrowed huge sums of money so they were never in debt. She says if you want your company to have longevity, it's best to grow naturally.
Cora Harrington is the founder of the blog "The Lingerie Addict" and the go to person for all things lingerie. She says while New York City is the hub of the intimate apparel industry, most manufacturing no longer takes place here because of high labor and real estate costs. Most large brands have moved to China to manufacture. So have the design facilities, as well as lace and sewing factories.
It's a far cry from the days when Manhattan was the center of the Garment Industry. It was here where the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory burned down, killing 146 workers - one of the deadliest industrial disasters in U.S. history.
That was in 1911.
In 1950, there were still nearly 350,000 garment manufacturing jobs across the city. But by 2010, fewer than 25,000 jobs remained.
In Midtown, the Garment District is a shell of what it once was.
Monica Wesley is a Parsons graduate who launched her lingerie company Uye Surana in 2013. She also is based in Manhattan to be close to her customers, her vendors and her vision. She says staying local allows her to experiment with styles; if she were to manufacture in China she would need to go a wholesale route where the minumum order is often a thousand pieces.
Uye Surana and Hanky Panky intend to stay in New York. Two lingerie companies, keeping alive the long history of manufacturers that can say, "Made in New York".