Our current collection of stylish intimates is true to this DNA. Each product is still carefully designed and engineered to offer superior support and fit for real women.
Berlei through the ages.
Select a decade below to see the evolution of Berlei.
Frederick Richard Burley was born in Richmond, Melbourne.
He was the third of five children of London-born parents Joseph Walter Burley, fishmonger and commission agent, and his wife Isabel. Frederick grew up with his family at Ballarat.
Fred and his brother Arthur would often visit their two aunts who made and sold corsets; as boys, they often helped to scrape the whalebone used for stays.
With financial support from his family, Frederick invests in a small ‘made to order’ corset firm in Market Street, Sydney.
Fred’s brother Arthur Burley, joins him. Together, the ambitious and entrepreneurial brothers form Unique Corsets Ltd.
They make a commitment:
“To Design and Manufacture Corsets and Brassieres of such perfect Fit, Quality, and Workmanship, as will bring pleasure and profit to all concerned, while at the same time rendering such excellent service to our Clients and Consumers as will merit their permanent patronage”.
The brothers engage the professional services of a medical doctor and garment designer to help create the innovative new corsets that would ultimately redefine the industry.
The brothers jointly coined the trademark name ‘Berlei’ derived from an adaptation of their family name ‘Burley’.
Berlei began using eye-catching advertising to promote the benefits of Berlei corsets under garments.
The Burleys bought land in Regent Street and in January 1922 opened Berlei House, seven storeys of offices and workrooms ‘constructed on the daylight principle’, with display theatre, elegant sales rooms, a library and a roof-top ‘playground’ for employees.
Berlei introduced training courses for retail corsetieres. The first of its kind.
Berlei was listed on the stock exchange.
In conjunction with the University of Sydney, they conducted an anthropometric survey of 6,000 women using 23 individual measurements. The results formed the basis of the Berlei Figure Type Indicator, which changed the nature of corset making the around the world.
Berlei revolutionised the lingerie fitting process by creating a metric Figure Type Classification.
Through television Berlei invited viewers to come and inspect the Berlei garments in person. A title card appeared at the end of their commercials explaining that the fashions worn in the ad (along with the Berlei foundation garments modelled) could be viewed on ‘living models’ at Berlei House - which was then located in Regent Street, Sydney.
As the Berlei brand grew, Fred Burley identified the potential of international markets and along with his son expanded the business in the UK under the name Berlei UK Ltd, opening a factory in Slough in 1936.
Fitting remained very important throughout the 1940’s, with regular reminders about the Berlei Figure Type Indicators and the importance of correct fitting underwear.
Berlei celebrated participation in the war effort, with advertising portraying women welding and bearing the torch.
When World War Two began, resources became scarce and the Berlei Foundations garment became regarded as a ‘Hard to Get’ commodity.
In this period, business growth came from two main areas: the expansion of Berlei’s international franchises and the development of Australia’s first maternity bra.
Berlei led the way again, developing the maternity bra. This was designed with the assistance and expertise of medical professionals, and received an official design approval making it available to Australian women for the very first time.
As the manufacturing industry grew over the world, Berlei continued to develop new ranges aimed at the young, sophisticated market.
Colour burst into lingerie for the first time with new, coordinated foundation ranges in bright 1960s pastels.
In the mid 1960s, the Hestia Company Ltd acquired Berlei Limited and changed the name to Berlei Hestia Ltd. Following this acquisition Dunlop Australia obtained a 75% shareholding in the business issued capital.
Berlei began designing sleepwear and swimwear to expand their existing range and launched Berlei Seabodies and Berlei Nightbodies.
In 1972, they acquired Osti Holdings - which established three unique brands in the market: Berlei, Hestia and Osti.
Berlei designed the popular ‘Minimiser’ bra style, shaped to apportion larger busts so that they appear smaller.
In May 1981, Dunlop Australia Ltd made a takeover offer for the remaining balance of Berlei Hestia Limited shares, acquiring full ownership. In 1986 the Australian operation became known as Berlei.
Berlei went on to create a stir with their ‘Brights’ range of colourful bra and brief sets - available in small, easy to carry boxes.
Berlei continued to set new ground with the development of Berlei sports bras.
Working in partnership with the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport), Berlei began testing and measuring ‘bounce reduction’ on elite athletes while performing different levels of activity including such as walking, running and high impact sports.
Berlei together with the AIS developed the SF ‘Support Factor’ Rating system to help women determine which sports bra they should wear during different types of exercise.
Berlei is the Australian market leader in sports bras and works to educate women about the importance of wearing an appropriately fitting sports bra and the damage that could affect their breasts when exercising without appropriate support.
Berlei is particularly committed to educating women from a young age on the importance of wearing a sports bra and have released a Youth Sports bra designed especially for this market to start young women looking after their breasts during exercise from a young age.
To this day, Berlei are still the only sports bras tested and endorsed by the Australian Institute of Sport.
As part of Berlei’s on-going commitment to supporting and understanding women’s needs, Berlei launch a campaign to raise awareness, and financial support, for the plight of Women’s Shelters in Australia.
Berlei asked some of Australia’s top designers to add their designer ‘touch’ to the newly launched Berlei ‘Oilala’ bra. These ‘Designer’ bras were later auctioned online; the money raised being donated to selected Women’s Shelters throughout Australia.
This was the year Berlei kicked off an integrated campaign in a bid to help Aussie women find the right sized bra. They named it “The Uplifting tour of Australia”. A custom bus (which doubled as a mobile fitting room) travelled for five weeks along the eastern seaboard from Cairns to Melbourne, visiting 27 towns ending in Victoria. Women were able to track the tour on-line; view highlights and upload their personal experiences through photos and blogs.
Berlei celebrate fuller busted and curvier women by launching a contemporary range of lingerie ‘Berlei Curves’. This unique range was designed especially for women who wear sizes 16-24 and D to G cups that often find it difficult to find fashionable, flattering and comfortable styles in their size.
Berlei appoint Kate Ceberano as their Berlei Curves Brand Ambassador.
Kate Ceberano is an award winning singer, songwriter and true Australian icon. A woman widely respected not only by the music industry, but also for her ability to juggle an abundance of other roles. From Brand Ambassador to her many stage and television appearances, to charity work (Ambassador for the National Breast Cancer Foundation), to Artistic Director of Adelaide Cabaret Festival and her most rewarding role motherhood.
Kate continues to be an inspirational advocate for the brand and celebrates women’s natural curves and women looking and feeling good.
To support the new Berlei Curves range, fuller-figured and fuller-cup mannequins were created and feature in Myer and David Jones stores. The first of their kind.
Based on the dimensions of Australia’s leading plus-sized international model and muse for Berlei Curves Laura Wells, the 16D mannequins put forward a more realistic body shape. Regular mannequins in Australia are a size 10, a size or two smaller than the average Australian woman’s dress size, so the Berlei Curves Mannequins were a welcome addition for the plus-sized shopper.
Also in 2010, to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Berlei launched the Berlei bra recycle program.
Women were invited to pop their pre-loved bras into special recycle bins. Recycled bras were then delivered to Africa, where they are sold at an affordable price, creating further opportunities for employment and helping to reduce landfill. The program allowed women in countries such as Kenya (where half the population lives on less than $1 per day) the opportunity to own something that has long been out of their reach, a bra.
Berlei ambassador Kate Ceberano was the face of the promotion.
Berlei refreshes the brand with the call to action to “Berlei your Body”.
Outdoor billboards, transit media and shopalites, showcasing the latest Berlei intimates, encourage all Australian women to Berlei their bodies. Berlei also launched a new look e-commerce website at the same time to increase access to the brand.
After 90 years, Berlei has maintained its philosophy of creating innovative products that make women look and feel fabulous every day.
As market leaders in the Intimates category, we have continued to pioneer innovation with ranges such as Barely There; Australia’s number 1 bra, Berlei Curves, Berlei sport and our new So Smooth intimates range.