Abraham Nathaniel Spanel
Playtex was founded in 1932 as the International Latex Corporation by Abraham Nathaniel Spanel, an industrialist, inventor and philanthropist who held over 2,000 patents. Spanel's original factory in New York produced ladies' swim caps and latex gloves. Spanel is said to have maintained living quarters in the original building and would often walk the factory floor in the evening while wearing his bathrobe. His employees were among the earlier to have air-conditioning and paid life and health insurance. The New York factory was later destroyed by fire. Spanel moved his operations to Dover, Delaware where they remain to this day.
From its beginning as a manufacturer of foundation garments, Playtex has been highly ingenious in creating innovative and memorable products. The introduction of the Cross Your Heart bra in 1965 and the 18 Hour bra in 1970 made Playtex one of the most highly recognized brand names in the world. The brand incorporates innovative features that give its consumers the support, fit and comfort they want: gel cushioned straps; stay-put straps; half sizes between regular cup sizes; and Airform fabric, our light-as-air comfort lining.
International Latex was purchased by Stanley Warner, the former theater holdings of Warner Bros., in 1954. Stanley Warner merged with fellow theater company Glen Alden in 1968, which merged with Rapid-American in 1972. Rapid-American sold the company, renamed as International Playtex, Inc. to Esmark in 1975. Beatrice Foods purchased Esmark in 1984. In December 1986, a group of Company executives, together with Drexel Burnham Lambert, bought International Playtex, Inc. in a leveraged buyout.
A new LBO occurred in 1988 on the occasion of which the Company was split into two separate and independent businesses: - The Intimate apparel business under the name of Playtex Apparel Inc and - The feminine hygiene products business under the name of Playtex Products.
Playtex Apparel Inc, based in Stamford (CT) focused on ladies apparel business under the well-known brands of the company such as Cross Your Heart, 18 hours, and many others and continued strong international developments. From 1988 the European portion of its business got its own R and D and design organization to develop products more suitable for the European market than pure American designed products. It came as a success.
In late 1991, Playtex Apparel was acquired by Sara Lee and got progressively integrated in the Sara Lee's Branded Apparel Division. In 2006, Sara Lee spun off its clothing sector into HanesBrands Inc., which now runs the Playtex apparel business, as well as other clothing brands such as Hanes and Champion. The exception was the European portion of its branded apparel business which was sold to private investors. As a consequence, European Playtex is now operated along with other brands under the company name of DBApparel, independently from HanesBrands.
Today, Playtex is a leading manufacturer and marketer of intimate apparel in the U.S. and abroad, #1 in consumer awareness within the intimate apparel category. In late 2007, Playtex launched a new breakthrough advertising campaign that uses humor and candid conversation to showcase the many Playtex products that solve women’s fit needs. Playtex products can be found in department stores and mass retailers, with distribution in over 10,000 stores in the U.S.