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In 1922, brothers Jack and Lazure Goodman formed the Real Silk Hosiery Company, one of the first companies to sell women’s hosiery door-to-door.  At the height of their success in 1929, Real Silk sold over 12 million pairs of women’s silk hosiery, or 6% of all United States sales of the product.  Real Silk had production mills in Indianapolis; Linton, Indiana; Dalton, Georgia; and Mississippi.  At the time, it was one of the three largest manufacturing units of hosiery in the United States.

The company took a brief downturn due to rising silk prices and the Great Depression, and management changed hands from the Goodman brothers to successful Indianapolis business man Gustave Efroymson, who had owned the H.P. Wasson Department Store.  Efroymson focused on cutting costs, and by 1934, the company was back on its feet.  Even a violent labor dispute in April and May of 1934 did not damage the financial resurrection of Real Silk.

During World War II, in addition to women’s hosiery, Real Silk secured a number of government contracts to manufacture parachute sleeves, and hosiery for soldiers.  When Efroymson died in 1946, the company was again booming.  Efroymson’s son, Robert, took over the company upon his father’s passing.  Unfortunately, the end of World War II meant the beginning of the end for Real Silk.  By 1957, sales had declined and Robert closed the remaining manufacturing facilities, including the original Indianapolis location.  Robert liquidated other assets and converted Real Silk, Inc. into a closed investment company which appears to have ceased operations in the late 1990’s.

The Real Silk Hosiery Mill was located at 611 N. Park, and is now a condominium building.  Beautiful Real Silk advertisements have been featured as part of HI’s Ladies Lounge.

7 responses to “Sunday Adverts: Real Silk”

  1. Isaiah Kuperstein says:

    Thank you Jessica for bringing up this very important company in the City’s history. Jack Goodman was the main leader in the building of Beth El Temple on 34th and Ruckle in 1924. Not only was he a successful businessman, but was also one of the main leaders in the Jewish community. His wife Sarah was also extremely influential and was one of the founders of the Indianapolis Symphony, among several other cultural institutions.

    Gustave Efroymson, was also a giant figure in the early formation of Jewish institutions in the City and was the longest serving president of today’s Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis in the early part of the 20th century. The family continues to be one of the most active charities in the city. The family originally came to Indianapolis from Evansville, Indiana in the latter part of the 19th century.

    It is my personal hope that one day there will be a place for the sharing of the memories and history of the Jewish community in Indianapolis which was and continues to be an important part of the city’s fabric and historical narrative.

  2. basil berchekas jr says:

    My late Mother used to sell Real Silk hosiery in the 1930s during her college years, and was impressed with its quality.

  3. Jessica Ballard-Barnett says:

    Thank you for the additional information about Mr. Goodman and Mr. Efroymson. I too find the history of the Indianapolis Jewish community fascinating, and look to include such information in my column when possible. 🙂

  4. Jack Boeldt says:

    I bought a white sport coat at Real Silk for my 1959 wedding. Yes, I wore it with a pink carnation.

  5. Julie Dwenger says:

    I am a native of Indianapolis, and our daughter and son-in-law just bought a fabulous condominium in real silk mill number 9. Very cool history…

  6. Nancy King says:

    My late mother used to work as a secretary at Real Silk prior to 1943. Would love to see some pictures of personnel from that era.

  7. Francie hutton says:

    I worked in the Real Silk Stocking building in 1963 as a secretary for an advertising firm. O modeled for the catalog business as well. The elevator was still being manned.

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