1858, "fine woolen fabric," from Fr. dialectal beige "yellowish-gray, brownish-gray," from O.Fr. bege "the natural color of wool and cotton; raw, not dyed," origin obscure. As a shade of color, it is attested from 1879.
"Das Wort lebt namentlich in der Bourgogne und Fr. Comté, daneben aber auch im Südwesten." [Gamillscheg]