Saturday, October 17, 2009


The Berlei company was a founding mother of Australian underwear for women.


Cinema clips from 1920-1950 taken from the Australian Film and Sound Archive.

"The National Film and Sound Archive holds around 90 Berlei cinema and television advertisements from the 1920s through to the 1990s. These advertisements include examples of silent and tinted film (like Berlei Camp-Berlei Foundation Garments: Physiological Support) as well as advertisements produced in the 1950s and 1960s for Berlei by Artransa Park Film Studios – a Sydney radio production house which went into television production in 1956.

Berlei’s cinema and television advertisements for its products over the course of the last century until today provide an important record of the development of women’s undergarments and corsetry over that time.

The common thread through all these advertisements is Berlei’s commitment to tasteful and comfortable lingerie and corsetry.


Tennis star Anna Kournikova was a celebrity model for Berlei in 2005. gallery

Company History

"Berlei foundation garments have a history dating back 1912 when Fred Burley founded Unique Corsets Limited with his brother Arthur. Berlei grew from a small store in Market Street Sydney where it offered ‘made to order’ corsets for discerning clientele. In 1919, Berlei Limited was born and since then the company expanded its product line into the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Today Berlei remains one of the most recognisable names in the manufacture and design of lingerie and underwear in Australia." (source)

From the Berlei corporate history page: "Burley conducted an anthropometrical survey of Australian women, the aim was to identify basic figure types so that ready made corsets might be designed to fit as if made-to-order."

From Wikipedia: "The brand originated in Australia in 1917. Berlei undergarments are now sold in Australia by Pacific Brands and in the United Kingdom by Courtaulds Textiles.

The name came from that of the firm's founder, Frederick R. Burley, who felt that his name as normally spelled was not appropriate to his products.--{side note:" [It is said that this name was chosen as a "French" version of the family name. The original form was not acceptable in refined circles, as in Australia burley is a slang term meaning to attract fish by scattering offal on the water around the fishing boat.]"}

Berlei Limited was one of the first Australian companies to expand outside Australia. Berlei (New Zealand) Limited was incorporated in 1923 and Berlei (U.K.) Limited was organised in 1930."

source "1926-27, Burley commissioned Sydney University to conduct the world's first large-scale systematic anthropometrical survey of the shape of women's bodies. This showed that women's figures could be grouped into five basic types, and led to the design of the Berlei Figure Type Indicator -- an inexpensive circular slide rule which could be used to quickly determine the correct fitting for any woman."

Undercover by Roadshow Home Entertainment. This Australian film actually tells the story of Berlei, one of Australia’s best known lingerie brands. The film was written by Miranda Downes and directed by David Stevens. Released on 11-Jul-2005.

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