The fashion of the UK in the 1960s is really a story of two halves. It was a decade of cultural and social change, and over the years the formal fashions carried over from the 1950s were replaced by new youthful fashion, reflecting younger people’s increasing confidence in their own identity and self-expression. Contemporary designers in the fashion industry responded to this trend, creating clothes which reflected these new interests and values with more casual and fun styles. Young people’s increasing purchasing power enabled the rise of small fashion boutiques such as Mary Quant’s Bazaar and Biba offering affordable fashions and a more relaxed shopping experience. In turn, these trends fed back into the garment and retail industry, and clothes generally became more informal and less accessorised. Sindy’s 1960s fashions clearly capture this shift in tradition which made the 1960s so significant.
The 1970s saw the rise of ready-to-wear, high-street fashion and with the introduction of a greater range of synthetic fabrics, fashions became bolder, brighter and more exuberant. Experimentation was the order of the day with a range of fashions which looked back to historical styles, across the world as overseas travel became more accessible, and where a myriad of trends flourished including hippy chic, peasant styles, disco and punk. More women were entering the workplace, and they were catered for with stylish workwear, including trouser suits. Evening wear was glamorous and thoroughly modern. Hot pants, maxi skirts, lacy nighties and negligees, trendy gingham lingerie, smocks, gypsy dresses, dungarees, denims, bell bottoms and halter necks, Sindy had it all.
The early 1980s saw a change in fashion, clothing became simpler and easier to wear with less accessories. There were interesting trends such as the fitness craze which gathered momentum with more stylish lady’s track suits, with leotards, leg warmers and headbands making an appearance. Formal fashions with a nod to vintage designs reappeared for special occasions, often accessorised with big jewellery, gloves and stoles, although these were no longer obligatory. And, as more young women entered and stayed in the workplace, no longer giving up work when they got married or had babies, there was the rise of professional fashions and ‘power dressing’. Clothes became brighter as the decade progressed and silhouettes were popular with garments such as overshirts, belts, puff sleeves, drop waists, long shorts, Y-shaped dresses and suits, boob tubes and oversized jackets all making an appearance. And where the fashions went, so did Sindy.
In 1965 Sindy got a boyfriend called Paul. He was supposedly named after Paul McCartney of the Beatles. He was 13 inches tall, an inch taller than Sindy. His head was sculpted by Eric Griffiths, and some of his clothes were designed by Hardy Amies, one of the first modern fashion designers for men. Paul’s clothes are a wonderful snapshot of British men’s fashions of the 1960s.
Patch was introduced in 1966 and she was Sindy’s naughty little sister. She was 9 inches tall, with short choppy haircut, freckles and a cheeky face sculpted by Eric Griffiths. Although often shown as a tomboy, she had a lovely wardrobe of outfits and when dressed up she could look as sweet as angel. She was named Patch by Derek Bibby who was Pedigree Dolls Limited Managing Director.
Glamorous Mitzi from France and sweet little Betsy from the USA were introduced in the Autumn of 1967. They were quickly followed by bubbly Brit Vicki and Patch’s new pal Poppet in 1968. But by the end of 1971 they had all been discontinued, however they still remain very with popular with collectors.
In 1971 Sindy was given a new friend, June. This doll could only be obtained by collecting heart tokens from Sindy boxes. There were three editions of June until she too was discontinued in 1976.
The Mam’selle “Gear Get Up” range of fashion doll outfits were made in Lines Brother’s Richmond factory in the mid 1960s. For a number of years, Mam’selle had been a subsiduary of Lines Brothers Ltd producing clothes, bedding and accessories for baby dolls, girl dolls of various sizes, and teddy bears (‘Teddy Wear’). They also made dressing-up outfits for boys and girls. These products were branded as Triang. On 1st of January 1966, Mam’selle became a sub-division of Pedigree and they further captalized on the enormous popularity of Sindy, Paul and Patch, and the influx of cheaper clone fashion dolls, by adding to the “Gear Get Up” range of Mam’selle branded clothes for 10 to 12 inch teenage dolls, and introducing the Paul and Patch 8 inch doll sized outfits. Stickers referring to Sindy, Patch and Paul were added to the Mam’selle boxes and a few referred to Sindy directly. They cost less than the official Sindy merchandise, and whilst this did not detract from the quality of their design; the cheaper manufacturing and materials used sometimes did.
The name “Scenesetters” was first used in Sindy’s 1969 Style Leaflet. This name was suggested by David Fear, Pedigree’s Product Manager in the 1960s. Pedigree’s scaled accessories for Sindy were extensive and they proved to be very popular and profitable. Over the years Pedigree refined and added to the range. As the times changed, so did Sindy’s Scenesetters, her furniture followed the trends of the day and she had accessories for every latest leisure activity and trend.
On the 11th September 1978 Sindy was launched in North America. Sindy herself was a blonde active doll with the first of the new 2nd Gen head mouldings. She was also given a new black friend called Gayle. Most of her outfits were the UK outfits tweaked and repackaged to accompany Sindy in North America. But, many of Sindy’s scenesetters were remodelled and renamed to appeal to the North American market. Interestingly the obvious Sindy ‘S’ branding on some of the furniture was removed and replaced by the less obvious new Marx Sindy heart logo. Perhaps to appeal to Barbie owners who might like her furniture too. Welcome to Sindy’s World!
Walt Disney’s famous Mary Poppins film was based on the novels of Australian-British writer P.L. Travers and was a mixture of live action and animation. It was released in 1964 and it was a huge success. Merchandising was extensive and included four 12 inch dolls, two of them Sindy, sold in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA. This page showcases all four Marys.
Margaret Elizabeth Dernocour Bing (1931-1982) was a very talented artist with an aptitude for needlework. She used her interests in history and costume to create four unique collections of Sindy dolls dressed in historic and national costumes. Two of her collections are documented in the Museum and the others will follow.
These dressing up clothes were made by the Lines Bros. (Richmond) Ltd factory. The same factory that made the Mam’selle outfits. We think these dressing-up outfits were only available from 1965 to 1967 and like the Mam’selle range were dropped following the rationalisation of Lines Bros.
Here you will find all the Scenesetters added to the Museum so far. Sindy had an extraordinary range of accessories which faithfully reflected our own lifestyle changes and trends over the decades.
Also included are the marvellous North American Marx Scenesetters with their own distinct ‘Sindy’s World’ logo and which were specially designed to match home furnishing tastes on the other side of the Atlantic.
As we add more content to the museum, the galleries will be updated also.