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Fredrick's Of Hollywood - The History of Fredrick's of Hollywood

frederick’s lingerie company mellinger

Frederick’s of Hollywood, often misspelled as Fredrick’s of Hollywood, is a lingerie store which opened its first official physical location in 1947. The company had been founded a year earlier as a mail order service based out of New York City by Frederick Mellinger. Mellinger had gained experience in mail order merchandising from working in a clerical position at an intimate apparel firm in New York City at age 14. His service in the U.S. army during World War II exposed him to a variety of different European lingerie styles. When he returned from the war, he decided to introduce the slightly more adventuresome and sensual lingerie to an American market which largely favored cotton underpants and plain, utilitarian bras. The success of the European lingerie style prompted him to open a brick and mortar store on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles in 1947.

The sensual underwear quickly became fashionable among the Hollywood acting community, making Frederick’s of Hollywood a highly profitable and popular venture. To capitalize on the success of the store, Mellinger began experimenting with different bra and panty styles. In 1947, Frederick’s of Hollywood introduced the world’s first padded bra, followed by the first ever ‘push-up’ bra in 1948.

Frederick’s of Hollywood continued to attract a wider national following by advertising in both men and women’s magazines during the 1950’s. Many have attributed Frederick’s astonishing success not only to his association with Hollywood’s elite, but also to the fact that he broached the previously taboo subject of women’s ‘unmentionables.’ By transforming items that had previously been a source of unease or even shame into a source of beauty and personal style, Frederick’s of Hollywood tapped into an enormously under-served market.

Throughout the 1950’s and 60’s, Frederick’s continued to invent new lingerie styles, including a pronounced conical bra. During the 1970’s when some women protested society’s prevailing system of gender equity by burning their bras, Frederick Mellinger proclaimed that “the law of gravity will win out.” The store experienced a significant rise in sales shortly thereafter, prompting the company to go public on the New York stock exchange.

In 1981, Frederick’s of Hollywood introduced the thong, a drastic change in style from previous lingerie offerings. The thong became a worldwide success, although by 1984 sales of Frederick’s other lingerie items had begun to decline. Frederick Mellinger stepped down as CEO in 1984, and was replaced by George Townson. The company reinvented itself and expanded its product line to include sportswear, dresses, swimwear, and other accessories. Frederick’s of Hollywood also renewed its relationship with star-powered glamour by employing buxom models such as Pamela Anderson to model its catalogue.

In the 21st century, Frederick’s of Hollywood continues to invent new variations of tasteful lingerie. The company offers its customers a line of bridal lingerie, including corsets and special honeymoon sleepwear. The company also has a specially designed line of lingerie for ‘full figured’ women. Frederick’s has physical locations in 29 states, and maintains a website which allows customers to place mail orders from its online catalog.

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