MALSIN, LANE BRYANT (1879–1951), U.S. fashion innovator and entrepreneur. A gifted seamstress, Lena Himmelstein immigrated alone to New York from Lithuania at 16. Not quite 20, she married Russian immigrant jeweler David Bryant, who died a few months after their son, Raphael, was born in 1900. Bryant supported herself and her son by sewing lingerie and other apparel from her apartment; in 1904 she applied for a bank loan to open a shop. From then on her name became Lane Bryant, either because a bank officer misspelled her name on a business account application or she signed her name incorrectly on that application and was too embarrassed to correct the mistake. Bryant pioneered a special line of maternity clothing which became increasingly popular. After
Lane Bryant was committed to good customer service and employee benefits, offering her workers decent wages, profit sharing, group life insurance plans, and medical expenses. When the company went public she provided one-fourth of the stock for employee investment. An exemplar of corporate philanthropy, Bryant teamed up with the American Red Cross and provided any Lane Bryant customer with a wardrobe to replace clothing destroyed in a disaster; she was also a supporter of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, New York Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, and other charities. She was survived by three sons, who continued to be involved with the business after her death, a daughter, and 12 grandchildren.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.