Barbie's 1960s Rivals!

Barbie's 1960s Rivals!



The Tressy doll was first released in 1963 and had a feature to adjust the length of her hair so that you could style it in a number of ways. “Her hair grows short, long or in between.  Tressy's hair makes her a Queen!"

Tressy was invented by furniture designer Jesse Dean and his wife Diana Dean. She originally wore a red knit sleeveless dress with a white soutache band around the arm holes and neckline and a white cord belt with white open toe shoes. There were white and black versions of Tressy.

The clothing line she wore was called Budget Fashions. Some of the names of the outfits are;  Pink Champagne, Campus Casual, Shaking the Night Away, Soda Pop Cutie, Car Coat, Chic Shift, Hootenanny and Evening Date on the Beach.


 It was produced by the American Character Doll Company and Palitoy in the UK, where Tressy had a slightly different look. 

It was sold to Ideal Toy Company in 1968. Ideal Toys had made a fashion doll called Tammy between 1962 and 68. Tressy was rebranded as “Gorgeous Tressy” and came dressed in a yellow and white geometric print dress and panties with black bow tie shoes. She was also produced in white and a black versions. She was sold by Sears and advertised next to the Crissy Doll. She posed in catalogues modelling exclusive Sears outfits. 

In 1971, “Posin' Tressy” was released wearing a belted turquoise, satin and white lace long-sleeved mini dress and panties with matching bow tie shoes. 

In 1972 she came in a special gift set wearing a satin wedding dress. 


The Ideal Toy Company also released the Crissy doll in 1969 with the same hair adjusting feature. 




Sindy was released by British company Pedigree Dolls & Toys in 1963, modelled after ideal Toys’ Tammy doll. Sindy proved much more popular than Barbie in the UK at that time because of her ‘girl next door’ look. She was the best selling toy overall in the UK in 1968 and 1970. Her slogan was "The doll you love to dress".

Retailers in London were given a recording to play with the following marketing: 

“Sindy is the free, swinging girl that every little girl longs to be. Sindy has sports clothes, glamour clothes, everyday clothes — a dog, skates, a gramophone — everything... Every genuine Sindy outfit is a child's dream come true. Each one is designed for today's fashionable young women by today's leading women designers. They are authentic miniature replicas of the latest adult clothes.”

Influential British design duo Foale & Tuffin designed clothing for Sindy during her initial release. 

Her brochure was named Bazaar after Mary Quant’s first shop. 

David Sillito for the BBC commented that “in the 1960s and 70s, she had it all - the Mary Quant bob, a moped and a pony. She wore outfits that made her look as if she had just stepped out of Biba or any of the boutiques of Carnaby Street, and her image was that of the carefree girl about Swinging London.”

Up to 70% of her turnover was from accessories sales. Sindy had a huge range of accessories which was a big difference compared to Barbie, with Mattel not expanding their accessories until the 1980s.

She was introduced to the American market in 1978 with a commercial featuring Brady Bunch child star Susan Olsen. 

In the 1980s, The Emanuels (famous for designing Princess Diana’s wedding dress) designed evening dresses for Sindy. Shortly after, Mattel followed suit by getting Oscar de la Renta to design gowns for Barbie. 

In the late 80s, Sindy's senior designer Jane Braithwaite travelled to Paris each month to research fashion trends for Sindy's clothing in an attempt to reverse declining sales. Sindy was redesigned and Americanized in 1989 by Hasbro, making her too similar to Barbie, leading her popularity to decline and lawsuits to reign down from Mattel. A Sindy magazine was launched and a £1 million advertising campaign was introduced in 1991 with five advertisements highlighting Sindy's collection of beach and pool wear. But she never again reached her previous level of success enjoyed in the 60s and 70s. 

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.