High-tech T-shirts that wick away perspiration; a strappy corset bought for Valentine’s Day; comfy undies from Target; shape wear from Spanx – it’s a little-known secret that many of America’s sexiest and most cherished “under things” are designed and developed by an Israeli textile company. Delta Galil is Israel’s “undercover” agent abroad.
In business since 1975, the company supplies many of America’s favorite labels and undergarment name brands, weaving the Israeli high-tech spirit into form-fitting, functional and attractive items in the process.
Delta also develops new products and product lines with particular clients in mind, to keep buyers such as Victoria’s Secret, Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, and other customers happy. Those other customers also include major companies like Nike, Hugo Boss, Target, Walmart, JC Penny, Marks & Spencer’s and Khol’s. “We are really partners with leading retailers,” declares Esti Maoz, a senior VP and Delta’s chief marketing officer, adding that she’s always open to new business and business ideas.
Delta Galil’s “brain base” is in Israel, where Maoz, who also oversees new product development and has been part of the business since its inception, recounts that company founder Dov Lautman, a successful businessman and philanthropist, wanted to create “a different approach” to textiles.
“Dov came with the vision to create a big company which would be the high-tech of the traditional textile industry,” says Maoz. “When you think of textiles you think about giving work to unskilled people, but his vision was to build up textiles in a different way; to give work to people in the Arab villages in Israel, and to create a new standards level as the most modern, high-tech textile company,” she tells ISRAEL21c.
Innovation in your underwear
The global recession had its effect on Delta as well and the company was forced to lay off production staff in recent years. Delta still maintains design and development in Israel, in the northern Karmiel region and in central Tel Aviv, but moved production to countries where labor is more cost-effective, such as Jordan, Egypt and Thailand.
The company has 10,000 employees worldwide and serves customers in the US, the UK and Europe. The core force for underwear innovation is Delta Galil Labs in Israel.
Besides working with engineers and chemists to develop new state-of-the-art materials in its lab, the company actively seeks recruits from Tel Aviv’s Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, where Israel’s best young fashion designers are nurtured.
“Although we don’t produce a lot here in Israel,” Maoz tells ISRAEL21c, “Everything starts here.” Owning its own factories, the company describes itself as vertical: “Some products we create from the fabric to the final product. In socks, for example, we form the yarn and actually knit the socks,” she says.
“Everybody can make regular underwear, and Israel couldn’t compete with that. That’s not what Delta stands for,” explains Maoz. “We give them extra business, not another pair of white underwear and a little bra.”
Dream, green underwear
Market research is an integral part of the approach. The Delta team interviews future customers, like the people who will eventually be flipping through the Victoria’s Secret catalogue. “We ask them about their dream underwear, and what they like and dislike and ask our team how to come up with something that can answer their needs, using external experts as well,” Maoz reveals.
“We use doctors if we’re doing a project on socks and would ask an orthopedic doctor about the influence of the product on the spine and legs. Then we test prototypes in independent labs. The next step is to tell the story of the product. We then take the product to the clients and give them a ready-to-buy story.
“We do the whole cycle and have our own factories and own facilities, and we also outsource all over the world, to China, Bangladesh and Cambodia. Operations are very balanced,” Maoz asserts, obviously pleased to introduce Delta’s steps to protect the environment.
She explains that as part of its business strategy Delta is committed to producing organic, cotton, underwear products, under its own labels. These are soon to be launched in the US. “It’s not just about using organic cotton,” says Maoz. “Our goals for the next year span several fields: Reducing energy; reducing carbon dioxide; reducing [use of] water; and reducing packaging and waste. We want to work in a more green way in our offices, too,” she reports.
Green principles are also incorporated into the manufacturing process, with products such as long-life underwear that washes well in cooler water. Delta Galil has also developed a cotton technology that prevents fur balls or pilling as well as odor build-up. “All our operations are focused on making ours a greener company,” Maoz asserts.