History and Story Behind Inventions: Brassiere or Bra

About the story behind the invention of the brassiere or bra, history and biography of Otto Titzling.

INVENTION: Brassiere

INVENTOR: Otto Titzling, U.S.

YEAR: 1912

HOW INVENTED: Titzling was born in Hamburg in 1884. He died in New York in 1942. His chance for immortality came while he was employed by an uncle making women's undergarments. In 1910, a period of heavy-boned corsets, he heard a young, aspiring opera singer, Swanhilda Olafsen, complain of discomfort and the lack of support corsets gave to her huge breasts. Inspired, he invented a chest halter to provide uplift and shapeliness for her bosom. He introduced the brassiere to the world, making and losing a fortune.

Titzling never received credit for his invention, because he had neglected to patent it. Around 1929, a Frenchman, Philippe de Brassiere, a former wartime flying ace and Paris dress designer, moved to New York, took up Titzling's plain chest halters and glamorized them. Titzling sued for infringement, but lost (except for minor damages) because he had no patent. De Brassiere's flair for promotion forever made his name immortal as the spurious inventor of the brassiere or bra.

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