Our vintage Biba collection encapsulates what the iconic brand became widely known for in the Swinging 60s and 70s – the long, skinny sleeves, miniskirts, feather boas, velvet trouser suits, and floppy hats all in earthy colours or art deco prints. Biba was established in 1964 by Polish-born Barbara Hulanicki, with the help of her husband Stephen Fitz-Simon. She moved to London after the Second World War and started her career in the fashion industry in the early 60s after studying at Brighton College of Art working as a fashion illustrator. The brand began as a postal mail order service under the name Biba’s Postal Boutique (Biba was the nickname of her younger sister). It took off thanks to the success of their pink gingham dress and matching headscarf; similar to one worn by Brigitte Bardot at the time. The dress was advertised in the fashion section of the Daily Mirror and the very next day over 4,000 orders was made. 17,000 were sold in total. It’s success meant Hulanicki and Fitz were able to open their first store on London’s Abingdon Road.
Biba became widely successful for creating original, wearable, affordable clothes and accessories, which captured the bohemian spirit of the age and matched the 60s look. Hulanicki believed simplicity was the secret to the brand’s staying power. She created designs, which were made to follow the lines of the female body at the time. Many are still sought after by collectors and can be found on Open for Vintage’s vintage Biba collection. Hulanicki also had an eye for what ordinary girls liked, a fast-changing supply of coordinated separates in a variety of colours. The brand also influenced other top fashion houses – notably Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
Two more stores were later opened in the Kennington area and by 1973 Big Biba was created; a multi-storey department store along High Street Kensington which included a restaurant and roof garden. It soon became THE high street brand of the time. Young women travelled from all over the country to shop there to secure the must-have items and around a million people visited each week – making it a popular tourist destination.
In the mid-1970s Hulanicki lost control of the business to the UK fashion company, Dorothy Perkins. Hulanicki now lives in Miami where she works as a retail and design consultant.
Here at Open for Vintage, we are proud to present an exclusive collection of vintage Biba. All capturing the heart and history of what Barbara Hulanicki became famous for.