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La Senza is a French-Canadian brand of underwear with a 27-year history.
La Senza is a lingerie and women’s apparel company that originated in Canada. The company was founded by Irving Teitelbaum, the son of Polish immigrants who had moved to Canada after the First World War. Following his college studies, he married Irwin Shier’s daughter. Shier owned a department store in Quebec. It was through working in the store that Teitelbaum learned about the retail business. When Shier was looking to buy another clothing store, it was Teitelbaum and another of Shier’s sons-in-law, Stephen Gross, who were put in charge. In 1966, the store, named Suzie Shier, was opened. Over the next quarter century, Suzy Shier grew into a retail empire, leading to other acquisitions for Teitelbaum and Gross, including expansion into the US market. As the Canadian businesses matured, Teitelbaum and Gross started looking for a new retail venture to invest in. Taking inspiration from the success of Victoria’s Secret, an underwear brand that was taking the US market by storm, the two businessmen decided to introduce a similar concept to the Canadian market. They initially considered expanding the underwear range that was carried in the Suzy Shier stores but felt that this might be confusing for their customers. Instead, a standalone store was opened in Montreal. Drawing from the Italian word for “without” and adding the prefix “la” to add a dash of sophistication, the La Senza brand was born in 1990. La Senza grew quickly, opening a further 34 stores by 1992 and expanding to the UK in 1996. The brand launched in South Africa in 2003 under a licensing agreement.
La Senza offers its own private label underwear, nightwear and apparel through boutique stores. The focus of the brand is more on fun and comfort as opposed to the overtly sexy image of Victoria’s Secret. In the early 2000s, La Senza’s holding company, Suzy Shier, was facing considerable financial challenges and was sold off. La Senza was bought by the American company, L Brands, which also owns Victoria’s Secret. Under this new agreement, all of La Senza’s international licenses were acquired by L Brands. In 2013, La Senza South Africa announced that the Edcon Group had acquired a controlling stake in the local license. La Senza’s product offering is distributed in clothing retailers such as Edgars.
La Senza has 15 standalone boutiques across South Africa.