Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Olga Nightgowns and Vintage Lingerie




Olga Nightgowns. Ever wondered who really is OLGA? As some of her tags say, "Behind Every Olga there really is an Olga". Here at Sweet Cherry Vintage, I offer you exquisite vintage Olga nightgowns and undergarments.

It is hard to believe that the Olga Company, one of the most sought after brands in vintage (and modern) lingerie, began with a measly $10 in the forties and reached volume sales of $67 million. Well the Olga behind Olga made it happen with her incredible undergarment designs and dedication to making women feel ultra feminine and beautiful.

Olga Erteszek, designer and founder of the Olga Company, left her native Krakow, Poland and immigrated to California with her husband, Jan Erteszek, in 1939. Jan was a lawyer who found work in sales after coming to the US and Olga, whose mother was a corsetière, worked in a factory making brassieres and girdles.

Now let's not forget that during World War II, sacrifices were made. Lingerie companies were assisting in the production of parachutes for the army and fabrics were rationed. When Olga saw a woman with hosiery rolled to her knees one day on a trolley, she told her husband that women should at least have something to hold up their stockings, even with the sacrifices being made during the was. With Jan's support and encouragement, she rented a sewing machine for $5 and spent another $5 on material and sewed a dozen lace-trimmed garter belts. A buyer for Bullocks-Wilshire department store bought the garter belts, and the Olga Company began. By 1950, the company was fully established in the lingerie industry.

In the early years Olga was directing seventeen designers, making fashionable lingerie that enhanced, shaped, and smoothed a women's body. Jan was the head of marketing and sales in the Olga Company, and had Olga appear in the company's advertisements as early as 1952.

From 1964 to 1978 she was featured in advertisements with a slogan that said, "Behind Every Olga There Really Is An Olga." This tag line can also be found on the labels of nightgowns, including the 1960's Sleeping Pretty collection.

In 1967, Olga Company became a publicly owned corporation with a value of $67 million. The Olga Company was one of the first companies to offer it's employees profit sharing. They made the Fortune 500 list of best 100 companies to work for.

In 1984, Olga Company was sold to Warnaco (Warner's, etc.) for $28 million.

Olga Erteszek held the women's record for patents. Her designs included the built-in bra nightgown, the seamless bra, the massaging bra, and tummy flattening panties. Jan and Olga were honored for their community and humanitarian work and in 1985 they received the California Industrialist Of The Year award for life time achievement.

Jan Erteszek died in 1986. In 1979, at age 73, Olga dies of breast cancer. One of their daughters, Christina Johnson, is currently the design director at Warnaco for Olga's Christina, a sporty line of lingerie, which was originally trademarked by Olga Company in 1981.

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