Ida Rosenthal

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Ida Rosenthal
Ida Kaganovich

January 9, 1886
DiedMarch 29, 1973(1973-03-29) (aged 87)
Known forBusinesswoman, dressmaker and inventor of the modern brassiere, She is the co-founder of Maidenform.
SpouseWilliam Rosenthal
ChildrenBeatrice Rosenthal Coleman and Lewis Rosenthal

Ida Rosenthal (née Kaganovich; January 9, 1886 – March 29, 1973) was a Belarusian-born American dressmaker and businesswoman who co-founded Maidenform. Ida is considered to be the creator of the modern bra and her company Maidenform went on to become the most successful bra manufacturer in the world.


She was born to a Jewish family[1] in Rakaŭ, near Minsk, then part of the Russian Empire.[2] her father was a Hebrew scholar and her mother ran a small general store.

[3] At the age of 18, she emigrated to the United States, following her fiancé William Rosenthal, and Americanized her (maiden) name to Cohen. Those who knew her well called her Itel.[4] In 1907 she got married and partnershiped with her husband.

In 1921, along with Enid Bisset, she opened up a dress shop, which a year later was registered the name Maiden Form. In 1925 the first Maidenform plant was opened in Bayonne, New Jersey to focus solely on their most popular product, brassieres (although the company later produced lingerie and swimwear as well). Despite the Great Depression and Enid's retirement, the partnership was very successful and expanded into markets across the United States, Europe and Latin America.

Advertisement used to promote Maidenform bras in 1961.

The Maidenform bra originated as an accessory to improve the fit of the dresses they sold, but it became so popular that they began to sell it separately. Their product was a major improvement over previous bras, because they used cups that supported and conformed to the breasts, rather than flattening them as had been the Flapper style (known as the "Boyish Form").[5]

Under Ida and her husband's leadership, Maidenform made many other advancements. Maidenform was the first company to sell maternity bras, and William invented a standard for cup sizes. In 1942, Ida received a patent for an adjustable fastener. During this time, Maidenform was also known for its racy newspaper ads featuring underwear models and its advertising slogan "I dreamed... in a Maidenform Bra."

During World War II her company Maidenform designed and produced vest for homing pigeons. These vest allowed paratroopers to carry birds with them when they parachuted behind enemy lines.[6]

After William's death in 1958, Ida became the company president. Ida died in 1973 of pneumonia, leaving the company in control of her son-in-law Dr. Joseph Coleman. Upon Coleman's death in 1968, Ida's daughter Beatrice Rosenthal Coleman gained control over the company.

Today Maidenform is owned by Hanesbrands and is currently being run by Ida's Granddaughter, Elizabeth Coleman.

Jewish Causes[edit]

Ida did a lot more during her life including numerous charitable organizations which she supported or founded later in her life. A few Jewish Causes she and her husband became involved in included Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith and the United Jewish Appeal. The United Jewish Appeal focused on providing to relief to Jewish Europeans during and following WWII.[7]

In 1942, Ida and William presented Solomon Rosenthal's collection of Hebrew books to New York University. This went on to become the William and Ida Rosenthal Collection. Ten years later a foundation in honor of Ida made sure a librarian would be paid to care for the collection. During this period they also established the Ida and William Rosenthal Fellowship in Judaica and Hebraic at New York University.[8]

The couple founded Camp Lewis in Rockaway, New Jersey in 1943 for the Boy Scouts of America, in memory of their son Lewis, who died in 1930 at the age of 23.[9] The camp continued to operate as of 2023.[10]


  1. ^ "Birth of Ida Cohen Rosenthal, co-founder of Maidenform January 9, 1886". Jewish Women's Archive.
  2. ^ "Belarusian-born dressmaker will be treated in Rakow (Belarusian language)". Retrieved 21 March 2013.
  3. ^ "INNOVATORS GALLERY: Ida Cohen Rosenthal".
  4. ^ Laskin, David (2013). The Family: Three Journeys into the Heart of the Twentieth Century. ISBN 978-0670025473.
  5. ^ Burstyn, Joan N. (1990). Past and Promise: Lives of New Jersey Women. Scarecrow Press. p. 387. ISBN 9780810822016.
  6. ^ Bedi, Joyce. "RUSSIA | Ida & William Rosenthal". Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Retrieved 2023-04-18.
  7. ^ "Ida Cohen Rosenthal". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 2023-04-18.
  8. ^ "Ida Rosenthal". Retrieved 2023-04-18.
  9. ^ "Ida Rosenthal, Co‐Founder of Maidenform Dies". The New York Times. 1973-03-30. ISSN 0362-4331.
  10. ^ "Camp Lewis Home page". Camp Lewis. Retrieved 9 May 2023.

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