CEO & FOUNDER, FASHIONFANTASYGAME.COM; FOUNDER OF THE SHAPEWEAR CATEGORY: NANCY GANZ BODYSLIMMERS-HIPSLIP
By content editorial director photographer
Nancy Ganz swore she would never work on 7th Avenue in the clothing business, but designing and manufacturing clothes is in her DNA. Both of her parents were clothing entrepreneurs, each with a great sense of style. Nancy’s mother, Norma, started working with her father, Harry, when Diane von Furstenberg chose Harry as the first person in the U.S. to manufacture her blouses.
“I WOULD GO ON THE SHOW AND SAY, ‘I EVEN COOK DINNER IN MY HIPSLIP,’ AND MY HUSBAND WAS LIKE, ‘REALLY? YOU DON’T EVEN COOK DINNER.’”
“I was a biology major in school, but I didn’t want to be a doctor,” said Nancy. “If I had my druthers, I would’ve been an inventor, but it didn’t seem realistic. Thinking about how I could put science and art together, my mother said, ‘Just come around and see,’ so I’d go to their business and look at fabrics. I got interested in how the business worked, and my father would explain profit margins. Then I took a class to learn about pattern making and draping. I loved the idea of being in production and placing the patterns in a certain way to save money. It’s like a puzzle.”
After starting her own fashion collection—with a friend who gave her the courage to do it—Nancy got a fashion rep to sell their line. When her friend went on to be a fur buyer at Henri Bendel’s, Nancy Ganz began designing a more upscale collection. During a personal appearance at Bloomingdale’s, she was struck with an ah-ha moment.
“If I’m 30-something and my stomach’s jiggling—I was a size 6—then the rest of the world must feel the same way,” said Nancy. “I’m going to make a lycra slip. I named it HipSlip, meaning cool slip, and put it in a little baggie, separate from my dress collection. I shipped it for free in every box to the stores who bought my collection. They were knocking down my door to get HipSlip, so I closed the collection and started making HipSlips.”
“Because I was used to ready to wear, where they copy and knockoff your design the next day, I wondered how much time I had? I had no overhead. I was doing this out of my apartment, so I found a manufacturer to help me.”
In 1999, Saks started selling lots of HipSlips. When Saks received a batch with bad elastic, Nancy called QVC. “They were new then, and I called them to get rid of all that merchandise. They put me on their smaller channel in Queens and tested it, and it did great. From there, I was selling HipSlips all over QVC. I would go on the show and say, ‘I even cook dinner in my HipSlip,’ and my husband was like, ‘Really? You don’t even cook dinner.’”
“I kept growing, hiring more people, getting bigger and bigger. I had HipSlip, High Waisted HipSlip, Belly Buster and High Waisted Belly Buster. In 1995, I did a knockoff line called Nip Tuck Boost, but by now, people were coming into my space.”
In 1996, BodySlimmers/Nancy Ganz was acquired by Warnaco. Since then, people ask her what she thinks about Spanx? “I think it’s great. Sara Blakely built a big, beautiful business, but I’m the creator of the shapewear category. I didn’t care about being a billionaire. Making millions was fine. It was more about realizing that being an inventor was good for me. Now I want to build a techie thing that automatically serves. I want to build robots.”
I can become a workaholic. It’s not a healthy way to live. You miss out on life.
MOST IMPORTANT SURVIVAL SKILL
Not panicking in emergencies and being very clever. I see the angles.
THROWS YOU OFF YOUR GAME
I can become a workaholic. It’s not good for me. I don’t get enough sleep, and don’t function as well. It’s not a healthy way to live. You miss out on life.
My next vision. Seeing it up and running.
WHAT’S NOT WORTH IT ANYMORE
Not having a good balance in your life. Making sure you live in the moment.
WHAT RECHARGES YOUR BATTERIES
New projects, new creations. I love technology. I love science and genetics and how the brain works. I’ve even thought, ‘Can I be a neuroscientist now?’
EARLIEST MEMORY OF FASHION & MAKEUP
At 13, going to Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs, we’d put blue shadow all over our eyes. My mother was always very fashionable. She would take me shopping for my school wardrobes. My father knew a lot about textiles. I’d go with him, looking around the stores at styles. It taught me a lot.
MISSING FROM YOUR CLOSET
I’m always looking for color. I love pink. Clothes are very white and neutral now, although there was a lot of yellow for a while, which I loved. Oh! And a new summer shoe that works for my “bunionized” feet.
Favorite is different than what I wear. I love Carolina Herrera. She’s fabulous. I wear a lot of Dolce because they fit me well, even their shoes. I love Moschino. The funness of their clothes describes a lot of who I am.
GO TO OUTFIT
Leggings, boots, a t-shirt and something long-sleeved; a jacket or cool something on top, that makes the whole look.