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This story first appeared in the July 26, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Boxers or briefs? However ridiculous — and, by now, dated — that perennial red-carpet question is, it frames a certain truth about human nature: People are particular about their underwear.
That’s not just true of boxers vs. briefs or boyshorts vs. thongs. Within the wide world of undies, loyalty tends toward specific brands and styles.
“Intimate apparel is so very personal,” says Rob Gardner, vice president and general manager of Donna Karan Intimates, adding that DKNY’s table pants (three for $27) are DKNY’s bestseller.
“Fit and comfort are essential,” Gardner says.
Valerie LeClaire, vice president of merchandising for Jockey International, said more than half of the women who buy Elance, Jockey’s most popular style, buy only Jockey underwear.
“Of the other half, more than 75 percent of their drawer is Jockey,” says LeClaire, noting the Classics, Elance and No Panty Line styles are Jockey’s most loyal, something she says has to do with consistency. “The product hasn’t changed.”
Hanky Panky, the 33-year-old underwear label started by Gale Epstein and Lida Orzeck, is as famous for its thongs — original and low rise — as it is their cult following. So much so that Orzeck devoted a section of Hanky Panky’s Web site, called the Thong Diaries, to fan feedback. There, customers share — and often overshare — their love for thongs.
“I just wanted to tell you how much I love Hanky Panky underwear,” writes one enthusiast. “I have gotten rid of all of my other undies….I wore them to get pregnancy [sic], during my pregnancy and after. I am pregnant again and still loving them. I was very skeptical when my friend turned me onto these….I needed to find some pretty, nice-fitting undies, because mine were looking really ragged (I hadn’t bought new underwear in over five years.)”
“I took the plunge and ordered six pair of Hanky Pankys,” reads another post. “I figured it was an investment in necessary clothing…. They are definitely worth the money and I will be taking the very best care of these to make sure they last for years.”
Claire Chambers, owner of the Journelle lingerie store in New York, can vouch for Hanky Panky’s popularity among her customers, but says that nothing sparks a loyal following like a good bra.
“If you find one that really works for you, it becomes your go-to,” says Chambers. “You know that if you’re going to work, it’s what you pair with a certain suit or whatnot. It becomes a critical building block.”
Which makes it all the more tragic when beloved styles are discontinued. When Chambers’ clients learned that Elle Macpherson was phasing out her Vamp bra, “there was a panic.” More recently, Chantelle announced it would no longer make its Chantilly style, a staple since the Nineties.
“Literally as many as 50 percent of our customers own this bra,” says Chambers. “We’re going to try to find a solution. We’ve wailed to the company.” — Jessica Iredale
ANGELO: RETRO AND RECYCLED
Even if the burlesque-inspired styles of Angelo, the new lingerie line from Italian vintage house Caroli, become your favorites, don’t get too attached. Each piece in the collection is one of a kind. Designer Karine Leclere uses vintage fabrics, such as silks, satins and laces, embellished with floral and polka dot patterns, but with new cotton trimmings. Prices start from 35 euros, or $44 at current exchange, for a slip. The collection will be available next summer at Caroli’s store, Angelo Vintage Palace, a three- floor mecca in Lugo, a small town near Ravenna, Italy.
Caroli’s effort is to promote secondhand clothes as a sustainable source of materials for the fashion industry. — Alessandra Turra
Who said classic men’s PJ’s are just for the boys…or bedtime, for that matter?
Certainly not Coco Chanel, who hijacked traditional men’s pajamas as a leisurewear alternative for modern women in the Twenties. Photos show Chanel wearing them in the mountains and on the beaches of Venice’s Lido in the Twenties and Thirties, and as eveningwear accessorized with bold jewelry, as she is here, at a dinner in 1938 hosted by Misia Sert with Vera de Bosset Soudeikine, Igor Stravinsky, Marie-Laure de Noailles, Serge Lifar, Yvonne Giraud and Jacques Février.