A New Look Revives Tradition

Posted by Censor Librorum on Mar 17, 2007 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

In a small, mountainside Koniakow home with apple trees running down the slope out back, Anna Barska, Elzbieta Kukuczka and Krystyna Kajzer sit on a couch stitching small circular patterns for new thongs under a picture of the late Polish-born Pope John Paul II.

Delicate hand-stitched lace from this mountaintop village has long graced the altars of Polish churches and tables of Polish homes.

But now tradition has taken a modern twist with thongs, G-strings and other racy undergarments–offending some villagers but giving new life to a 200-year-old cottage industry.

“Lace wasn’t selling in the quantities it once did, and the tradition was starting to slowly disappear,” says Malgorzata Stanaszek, co-owner of KONI-art, the company that stitches the lingerie. “Our friend then said, as a half-joke, ‘Why don’t you make thongs? They’re popular now.’

Stanaszek, 32, recruited her mother and two sisters into the business, and they started stitching the thongs and selling them on the Internet in 2004. Now Stanaszek says she employs 65 women who work from home churning out lace panties, G-strings, thongs and bras for customers around the world. Orders come from across Europe and as far away as Japan, China, New Zealand and the United States; a Koniakow thong sells for about $20.

The sexy designs are a far cry from the stodgy doilies, curtains and table runners of the past, leading some residents to view the thongs as a slap against the village’s lace-making tradition.

“It’s really not beautiful at all what they’re doing,” said Joanna Pielka, an elderly woman on her way to church in Istebna. “Do there have to be so many holes?”

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