Maternitywear is by no means a new sector, but social media stars and diversified ranges mean that right now, it is really having a moment.
Expectant women – especially celebrities and royalty – who post snaps of their latest outfits on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, illustrate the celebration of pregnancy. A growing population of fashionable pregnant women who follow Pinterest boards called #maternitystyle and #stylethebump has emerged, and they are spending money on getting dressed up for photo sessions or packing up for their “babymoon”.
In 2015, the maternitywear market was estimated to be worth £267m and analyst Verdict Retail predicts that it is set to grow by 0.8% in 2016. And, as the market grows, so does the number of retailers offering a maternity line. Between 11 February and 11 May this year, UK retailers increased the number of new maternity products offered online by 29% compared with the preceding three months. Bestsellers include maternity bras, occasionwear dresses – especially during the summer wedding season – and striped tops and pyjamas. Entry price points on new products have also risen in the last few months, up 3% to an average of £29.28 across all items.
The most recent to expand its maternity offer is Spanish retailer Mango, which launched its first collection in store and online in June this year. A spokeswoman for the brand said: “We went into maternity now because we feel the goal of Mango is to dress women for every moment of the day. Our day-to-day efforts focus on growing the brand by covering the needs of women, including the maternity period.”
Mango has plans to expand the capsule collection, which currently consists of nine items including four bestselling jeans from its collection fitted with elastic to adapt to a growing bump, T-shirts, a dress and a sweatshirt. Retail prices range from €12.99 to €35.99 (£11 to £31).
The spokeswoman said: “Generally speaking, we have paid lots of attention to the details when designing each garment. They adapt to each body shape and the fabrics chosen – they are 90% cotton – offer the comfort women seek during the pregnancy.”
We have seen a huge increase in [maternity] sales, up more than 100% vs last year.
Mark Fisher, Asos senior womenswear designer
The etailer launched with its Asos maternity brand in 2009 and, Edited reports, now offers more than 2,000 items – four times more than its closest competitor, the Germany-based Zalando. During the last three months, Asos has increased the number of products introduced into the range by 13%. Alongside its own collection, the etailer now sells 15 maternity brands – including top sellers New Look, Mamalicious, Bluebelle Maternity, Maya Maternity and Little Mistress Maternity.
H&M’s own-brand maternity line, Mama, launched in 1992 and is available online and in selected stores. Retail prices range from £6.99 for tops to £24.99 for jeans, and products are made using sustainably sourced materials. Rather than focusing on seasons, the line has continuous drops throughout the year.
Premium brands Seraphine and Isabella Oliver were launched in the UK, and have been around for 14 and 13 years, respectively. Cecile Reinaud, founder of Seraphine, admits some competition from Asos and Topshop, but says that what makes the brand stand out is “its technical fit and engineering for up to nine months, and the adaptability of the pieces to nursing”. Seraphine’s retail prices range from £39 for tops to £129 for dresses.
While there may be a temptation to branch out beyond maternity and launch standard womenswear collections, Seraphine has remained a specialist retailer. With sales of £14m for the year to 31 March 31, it has stores in New York and Dubai, and plans to move into China. The increased popularity of “styling the bump” has proved successful for it.
There is certainly more to creating maternity clothing than just adding a stretch panel. Isabella Oliver co-founder Baukjen de Swaan Arons explains: “It’s really important to us that our customers can get as much wear as possible out of each piece, so they last through the entire pregnancy. We incorporate hidden techniques and design details, such as internal shelf bras and bra strap loops – all the little details that make a big difference.” Retail prices for Isabella Oliver range from £29 for a camisole to £349 for a pair of leather leggings, and items are stocked on Asos as well as on its own site, isabellaoliver.co.uk.
Comfort is, of course, important to mothers-to-be, and brands have been quick to provide for this, as well as for the growing fitness and athleisure trends. Gap offers maternity yoga products, while maternity activewear site fittamamma.com – launched in 2012 – offers a range of fitness clothes, as well as advice for pregnant women. Mamas & Papas recently collaborated with London yoga studio Frame to create a range of clothing and offer prenatal classes in its store in Battersea, south-west London.
The growth in the maternitywear market and the trends it follows have been driven by social media, mum-to-be bloggers, and stylish celebrity mums, such as the Duchess of Cambridge, model Gisele Bündchen and actress Kate Winslet. And as this social community of expectant mothers grows, the maternitywear market is bound to continue at the same pace.