Lane Bryant is a retail women's clothing store focusing on plus-size clothing. It began in the early 1900s with the innovative maternity designs created by Lena Himmelstein Bryant Malsin.
Widowed at an early age, Lena Bryant supported herself and young son as a dressmaker. Borrowing $300 for working capital from her brother-in-law, Lena went to the bank to open an account. The bank officer misspelled her name on the application as Lane instead of Lena. In 1904, she rented a small storefront on Fifth Avenue with living quarters in the back for $12.50 a month. There she hung her garments from the gas fixtures, and opened the doors.
Asked by one of her pregnant customers to design something "presentable but comfortable" to wear in public, Lena created a dress with an elasticized waistband and accordion pleated skirt. This would be the first known commercially made maternity dress. This dress not only was welcomed by middle-class women, but by poorer pregnant women who had to work. The maternity dress soon became the best-selling garment in Lena's shop.