When I stepped off the bus in Lodz to meet with Ewa Michalak, her son Dominik kindly met me and accompanied me to the studio. Lodz, Dominik quickly volunteered, is not the most beautiful city in Poland. By this point in the trip, I had briefly visited three major cities: Warsaw, the modern and wealthy capital; Krackow, a historic center of education and culture; and Poznan, what a native described as "just a regular city where people live and work". In comparison, Lodz enjoyed it's golden age during the Industrial Revolution and like the manufacturing cities in Northern England, it focused it's attentions on commerce and production, rather than arts or politics. Today, it's a center for Polish full bust lingerie, with Comexim, Kris Line, Corin and Ewa Michalak all situated in the city or surrounding area. Down a narrow alleyway, Dominik drove us to a rather nondescript office building. Ewa Michalak's atelier is situated on one of the upper floors, hiding away the lingerie magic happening inside.
While we waited for a meeting to conclude, Dominik gave me a tour of the workshop. There are four central spaces, beginning with the office area, that lead into one another. After the wide office corridor -- with a break room and Ms. Michalak's private office adjacent -- there's a large area for drafting, cutting and designing immediately to the left.
Continuing down the corridor, the space opens up to a large, bright room where the lingerie is assembled, finalized and checked before delivery.
After happily trailing Dominik through these rooms, I considered how immature and ignorant I had been about this side of the process. I critique, praise, and analyze bras on Miss Underpinnings all the time, but I've never once stopped and thought of the people who make these garments. I can't imagine it's an easy job, to sit for hours and assemble such delicate and precise products. It's not a glamourous one either, as designers and models get all the real attention. I know that the industry operates in a symbiotic cycle and it's my part to shine a light on the mistakes or triumphs of a given company. But sometimes, I believe it's essential to speak simply and express gratitude to the people who are never properly thanked. So, to all the men and women who make the lingerie I love: thank you or, as I learned in Poland, dziękuję.