Almost 100 years of history and tradition underpin the work we do today. John Wesley Hanes established the company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1901 to manufacture men's socks. Today's headquarters is only a few miles away from the site of the first plant. The original company was known as Shamrock Mills until 1914 when it was renamed Hanes Hosiery Mills Co. In 1918 the conversion was made from manufacturing men's socks to women's socks.
When nylon was developed in 1938, Hanes was among the first to identify its potential in the hosiery market. Years of research led to the development of seamless hosiery and enabled the company to pioneer the introduction of pantyhose in the mid 1960s.
While John Wesley Hanes was concentrating on hosiery, his brother, P.H. Hanes, began P. H. Hanes Knitting Company to manufacture men's underwear. Both companies experienced outstanding growth for half a century, each reaching $50 million in annual sales by the early 1960s. In 1965 the two companies merged to form Hanes Corporation.
With its position well established in department and retail stores in the 1960s, Hanes sensed an opportunity to develop a product that would impact the growing food/drug/mass merchandising arena. Capitalizing on the technical expertise within Hanes Hosiery, the company introduced L'eggs in 1969. The innovative egg packaging captured the imagination of consumers and the product's quality, price and convenience met the needs of active women. The marketing strategy was so successful that L'eggs Products, Inc. became a separate division of Hanes Corporation in 1972, setting the stage for the phenomenal growth by L'eggs.
In 1979, Sara Lee Corporation, headquartered in Chicago, Ill., acquired the operating divisions of Hanes Corporation. Hanes Hosiery and L'eggs Products, Inc. were rejoined under the Sara Lee Hosiery banner in July 1987. Sara Lee Hosiery, a division of Sara Lee Corporation, is headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.