Skip to main content

Maternity fashion a new labor of love


The maternity powerhouse Mothers Work, which includes Motherhood, Mimi Maternity and A pea in the pod, makes apparel that makes women wish they were pregnant. “The trend in maternity is that you are never specifically calling out maternity,” said Liz Lange, the founder of Liz Lange Maternity. “The trend is to look like anybody else who is fashionable.” And Liz Lange has been on point in its fall collection, which features jumpers, tunics and pencil skirts stylish enough to be seen in H&M windows.

“Maternity fashion follows women’s ready-to-wear,” said Lange. “We are beginning to see the pendulum swing toward fitted, ladylike looks.” The trend is to wear apparel closer to the body with an emphasis on the waist, something that ties right above or below the baby bump.

Since women prefer soft stretch fabrics on their bodies, it’s no surprise that eco-friendly is big this spring. “This happens to be something that our customers care so much about because they are bringing new life into the world,” said Rebecca Matthias, president and creative director of Motherhood Maternity, Mimi Maternity and A pea in the pod. “They have a body that’s changing and stretching and they want to be surrounded by fabrics and beauty products that are friendly to the skin.”

Long flowing dresses are expected to be a great success, as their light and airy silhouettes work well with any belly. The patchwork patio dress by Motherhood confirms that maternity styles are not far off from that of higher-end fashions, such as a Single dress that will be sold at Bloomingdales.

The safari and tribal theme will be on the prowl, thanks to intricate and unique details like beading, pockets and hemp rope trims. Due to the nature of the styles, customers can expect to see plenty of earthy tones. On the other hand, bright colors and graphics paired with black and white will continue to dominate.

However, the popularity of loose fitting garments in the missy department may lure the maternity shopper, stealing some of its market. “The [maternity] top business has suffered because of the impact of top business on the missy floor,” said Cindy Skiba, maternity and special sizes market analyst at The Doneger Group.

To combat purchases of the baby-doll-styled tops, maternity apparel is updating across the spectrum and offering tops that fit closer to the body, added Skiba. Part of the growing comfort zone in tighter fitting tops stems from celebrities showcasing their protruding bellies, she said.

For a maternity label to succeed, it needs to educate the consumer. Such knowledge will keep the consumer in the maternity world, continued Skiba. As part of the differentiation effort, the maternity sector is focusing on items that can extend the wardrobe.

“Women still love thong back, sexy underwear,” said Lange. “They just need it to accommodate the waistline.”

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds