History - A look back at Laura
The Story Begins
Laura Wolstein opens the first Laura store in Montreal on St. Hubert Street, capturing the stylish essence of the decade influenced by the likes of Shiaparelli and Wallis Simpson. The boutique caters to the fashion needs of women seeking exceptional service and superior quality.
Rise Of The Baby Boomers
Now well into the post-war years, people find themselves with enough money to produce and buy things other than the bare necessities. One of the biggest industries to benefit from the end of the war and the coming of age of the boomers is the fashion industry: people are now returning to luxurious and expressive clothing. Radio and television advertisements and magazines like Vogue are encouraging women to buy all the latest things. Stylish clothing once had been only for the rich, but now, post World War II, members of the ever-growing middle class can afford good clothes. Women enjoy mix-and-match sportswear and bouffant hairstyles. The baby boomer generation changed the face of fashion forever.
With the initial success of these new stores, Laura broadens its scope by expanding into Ontario, opening two stores in Ottawa in 1983. The continual growth of the brand leads to the launch of a new label, Melanie Lyne, which aims at providing cutting edge clothing of exceptional quality. With an increasing demand for quality work wear, Laura opens its first two locations in Toronto in 1989. In that same year, Kalman Fisher expands the brand further. Having heard for a while that there was a want for clothing to fit shorter women, Laura launches the Laura Petites division with free standing stores in two Montreal Regional Shopping Centres, catering to the needs of women 5'4" and under.
By the 2000's, Laura is a well-known Canadian women's retailer. In order to provide better service to its customers, Laura begins to open double and triple concept stores: a place where a customer could find all Laura banners under one roof. This decision was made after the realization that many women shop across the different banners, facilitating their shopping experience by bringing everything together. Proudly Canadian, Laura also is involved in the community. Having begun a relationship with the Canadian Cancer Society in the late 1990's, by the 2000's Laura has donated over $2 million to cancer research.
Moving On Up
Laura Wolstein's daughter and son-in-law, Gertrude and Leonard Fisher, become increasingly involved in the family business. Having found initial success with their St. Hubert Street location, the boutique relocates to the Montreal suburb of Verdun, where a bigger store space is found. At this time, women are increasingly entering the workforce. Laura aims at providing working women classic and quality work wear.
Spreading Our Wings
With the growing importance of fashion, the retail industry is booming. Laura remains as a single successful boutique until 1973, when, seeing potential for growth, Kalman Fisher, grandson of Laura Wolstein, opens a second store in a small mall in the Montreal suburb of St. Laurent. After this initial success, the expansion of the Laura brand continues. By the end of the decade, Laura has gone from having a single store to having six locations in and around Montreal.
The 1990's is a time of vast expansion for Laura, with the opening of over 80 new stores. Building on our strength in Quebec and Ontario, Laura moves west as stores were opened in British Columbia, Alberta and Manitoba. It is also a time for further brand expansion. Laura Plus was launched in eight stores in 1995, catering to the fashion desires of women sizes 14+. A few years later, in 1999, Laura Privilege, the Laura Canada customer loyalty program, was introduced.
Laura Canada has come a long way since 1930. Under the stewardship of Kalman Fisher, Laura Canada now counts over 170 stores, and still growing. With the advent of the digital age, Laura has undertaken a very exciting initiative – the launch of an eCommerce website, where customers can browse the entire Laura collection and have it delivered right to their door. Things never stop for Laura, and we can't wait to see what's next!