We know very little about this brand other than a rather interesting article and an example of one of their products, the Ski-Hi girdle.
The Sky-Hi panty-girdle was well made and pretty, but no different from a hundred of its peers. Very American early 60's with exposed suspenders, charming satin panel and reinforced waist-line I'm sure it did its job well. It's special feature was the name Sky-Hi that alluded to the elegant airline stewardesses and the jet-set lifestyle that was coming into vogue.
Clever marketing. We are all prey to the opinions of our peers so why not put it into words (right) "One woman tells another"
The following article that comes from the Akron Beacon Journal is reproduced with the permission of Mark Price.
ROCK OF AGES ON FIRM FOUNDATION
Looking back on it, girdles probably weren’t the best fit for a TV preacher. Saving souls was hard enough. Shaping bodies was a bit of a stretch. Summit County television evangelist Rex Humbard (1919-2007) found an unusual way to support his ministry in August 1965 with the acquisition of the Real Form Girdle Co. in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Broadcasting from the 5,000-seat Cathedral of Tomorrow off State Road in present-day Cuyahoga Falls, Humbard’s syndicated TV program aired on nearly 400 TV stations in North America and reached hundreds of millions of viewers. To control the bulging costs of production, the Cathedral of Tomorrow Inc., a nonprofit corporation, decided to slip into a few side businesses along the East Coast.
The purchases of Nassau Plastics & Wire Co. in Brooklyn, N.Y., and Unity Electronics Co. in Elizabeth, N.J., went as smooth as silk. However, the cathedral’s acquisition of the Real Form Girdle Co., founded in 1920, had a few wrinkles.
The four-story brick building employed more than 200 people and manufactured girdles for thousands of U.S. retailers. With the advertising slogan “Girdles of Grace,” Real Form included the brands Sky-Hi, Small-Fry, Soft Skin, Snow-Flake and Wafer, and promised “smooth figure control with comfort,” and maintenance so simple, it “washes like a hanky.” One advertisement for Sky-Hi boasted: “Amazing new split crotch design! Exclusive Thi-Kontrol! Higher at the waist! Longer at the thigh!” Such enthusiasm! Needless to say, those phrases were never spoken from the pulpit by Humbard, a former tent revival preacher who began his TV ministry in Akron in 1952. “We bought the company on a bank loan without a penny of our church’s money; the company repaid the loan and brought our television ministry more than a quarter-million dollars in the first year,” Humbard explained in his 2006 autobiography The Soul-Winning Century. “I had made a solemn promise to God that I would never use one nickel of the money donated to our church in a commercial investment.”
For a couple of years, the girdle company’s ownership remained unmentionable. Then the Beacon Journal opened the drawer on cathedral business holdings in a 1967 article. “This shouldn’t be written about,” Humbard told reporter Bruce McIntyre. “All you want to write about is my finances. Leave us alone. I warn you you’re going to get in a ball of fire.” Under the tax laws of the day, the cathedral had done nothing wrong. It was legal for churches to benefit from side businesses while maintaining tax-exempt status. Humbard had to realize, though, that the girdle revelation would soon become the butt of jokes.
“ROCK OF AGES ON FIRM FOUNDATION,” Women’s Wear Daily, a New York trade journal, quipped in a headline.
Preaching to a local audience of about 2,000 on the day after the Beacon Journal published its article, Humbard criticized the story as “something that makes you want to go down there and tear somebody’s hair out.” However, “the Bible says to love thy enemy,” he said. “The inference was that there is under-the-table business going on,” he said. “This congregation has not given one cent toward acquiring divisions of the Cathedral of Tomorrow Inc. This is our business, not the Beacon Journal’s.”
In a lighter moment, Humbard’s wife, Maude Aimee, told the congregation: “I’m going to start wearing one of those girdles tomorrow.” There just weren’t enough Maude Aimees in the late 1960s.
The Cathedral of Tomorrow bought the company in an era when women’s fashions were changing. The growing popularity of pantyhose pinched girdle sales and added pressure to the bottom line. It was like investing in a buggy whip factory at the dawn of the automobile age. “Pantyhose killed us,” Humbard later admitted. After a few more years of drooping revenues, the cathedral slimmed down by selling Real Form Girdle Co. in September 1973 to VTR Inc. of New York City for an undisclosed price. The cathedral reportedly netted $350,000.
After the sale, Humbard said he wanted to focus on his worldwide ministry. “I wasn’t saving any souls directly with Real Form Girdle,” he told the Beacon Journal. The evangelist said he felt a great relief after the sale of the girdle company, like a man who had just passed a kidney stone or gallstone. “I feel I got hurt for a moment, but the greatest spiritual blessings are ahead of me.” No more “Girdles of Grace.” No more smooth figure control with comfort. Humbard was eager to take a rest after years of minding figures. “I’ve spent as much as seven days a week on business,” he said. “Burning the candle at both ends might have shortened my ministry. I want to relax more and have more time for study and prayer.”
Mark J. Price is author of The Rest Is History: True Tales From Akron’s Vibrant Past, a book from the University of Akron Press.
This lovely article is interesting in that it charts the decline of girdle sales in the USA.