Monday, October 10, 2011

Vintage Designer History: Beeline Fashions

Opening and running our Etsy Shop has been a lot of fun for us because we get to scour through clothes for great vintage finds (shop for a reason!) and are able to do fun photo shoots, but my favorite part is actually learning more about the history behind the pieces of clothing and their designers. 

We recently received a cute white and blue mini dress in our vintage lot (pictures coming soon!) that had the tag "Beeline Fashions" and like I do with our other items, I started to do some research about this designer online to be able to date and price our item. However, this particular company really stuck out to me. Below is a little bit about the company's founders that I found while researching online.

"Beatrice F. Birginal (known as “Bee”) had a knack for mixing-and-matching clothes and she and her husband H. Edison Birginal were savvy enough to turn her skills into a fashion empire. After he was discharged from the military following World War II, the couple settled in Chicago. They used his G.I. loan to start up a business.
 He sold hosiery items door-to-door. They expanded the merchandise to include moderately priced sportswear, which he termed “Bee's line of clothing.” The name stuck. In 1948, Beeline Fashions hooked up with independent contractors and gave them the fashions to sell at home parties. 

Bee served not only as the clothing buyer, but was the catalog typist and designer (simple mimeographed hand drawings) for the family business. According to son Gary Birginal, "In the late 1950s and 1960s, women didn't have opportunities to work outside the home. Beeline Fashions provided them with a chance to work part time one or two nights a week, and the business exploded." 
 (photo credit: http://hideelee1966.blogspot.com , May 1967)

The popular home parties were termed style shows. Beeline Fashions expanded rapidly during the 1960s and peaked in 1979 with 20,000 independent contractors (known as stylists)."



On that note, I hope that we find another Beeline Fashions tag in our quest to find vintage treasures soon!


EDIT(October 17th, 2011 3:00pm):  Here is our Beeline Fashions Dress for Sale on Etsy!!



9 comments:

  1. Actually found my first beeline fashions shirt myself and came across your blog while doing a little research. Thank you so much for the great information!

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  2. I'm glad it helped out a bit! I wish I could find more on them, it seems really interesting.

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    1. Hi Purple Party!

      My name is Alicia. Edison Birginal was my grandfather's uncle. I might be able to answer some questions for you!

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  3. Thanks for this, I recently found a Beeline shirt at an estate sale and was curious about them.

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  4. Just stumbled in. My mother worked at the Beeline factory in Illinois in the '60s. We even had a fashion party at our house and of course, we wore Beeline clothes. Seems we had "parties" for everything back then..Tupperware, pots/pans, make-up, plants! you name it.

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  5. My mom was a "stylist" in the 60's and used my sister and I to model for the fashion shows they put on here and there. Can't say it was my favorite thing to do, but I love that fashion photo from The Pheasant Run (mom and daughter with the carriage behind them) - I seem to remember doing a fashion show there, but my mom also worked there as a hostess at the restaurant so we were there a lot.
    Good times.

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  6. Thanks for the great info. I recently found a great vintage black negligee with a handkerchief hem and a magnificent 200 inch sweep that had a Beeline Fashions label. It looked like from the 1970s, but glad to be able to confirm that.

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  7. I worked for Beeline in Bensenville, IL for a few months before enlisting in the Navy in 1962. I filled the orders and packed them up for shipping. We often thought we should get a pair of skates to go around the bins grabbing items on each list. It was a great experience to have my first job.

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  8. I remember beeline from when I was a little girl,especially the mother/daughter collection.

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