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Has maternitywear really disappeared from our shops?

April 28, 2010

Read this interesting article on the Guardian, but don’t really agree with the author. Having worked in the industry for over 5 years I’m obvioulsy more clued up than most newly pregnant women, but I still think you can find some great sites online, and some good pieces on the high street.  My top 5:

  1. IsabellaOliver.com: good quality jersey pieces (wrap dresses, tops, some hosiery)
  2. Pretty Pregnant: European brands, good jeans, bra-fitting service and 5 well-located stores
  3. Top Shop maternity: on Oxford street for those brave enough to face the crowds, or online
  4. Zara: on last recce all London stores had 1 or 2 rails of maternity wear (ask – they’re quite well hidden) plus a lot of pretty (non-maternity) empire line tops
  5. Blooming Marvellous: not in the least bit on-trend, but you can build a great capsule wardrobe (a fresh nautical long sleeve T, waterfall cardigan, pair of boyfriend jeans and simple black maxi dress + accessorize like mad with ditsy floral scarf, chunky silver jewelry, white Birkies & coral toenails, a cute denim jacket, big shades = fash forward!)

But it is true that independent maternity boutiques have quietly vanished over the last couple of years. We used to have PUSH in Islington (seriously), Nine in Essex, Kate Lauren in Jesmond – even Blooming Marvellous recently closed 5 of its stores.  The reason why they go bust is simple – there’s just not enough demand! Customers want something that’s very hard to offer: good jersey basics (covered by the high street and online),  fashionable – but cheap – tops (maternity brands can’t offer these as they are too expensive/risky to produce in small quantities), pretty underwear (often not stocked as lack of space and training) and the occasional special occasion dress or suit (not enough demand to have lots of options in stock). Not easy!

There are some success stories: if you combine great service (including a knowledgeable bra fitter and a good choice of lingerie), cute babywear and gifts, organic skincare, quality denim brands (everyone needs a pair of good jeans, even more so when you’re pregnant) and an onsite ‘experience’ (think antenatal yoga classes, an organic cafe,  even a buggy testing course) – then you can really make it work. See how our international friends do it; Enula 9 in Copenhagen, Emily Evans (formerly 9 London) or Bump Brooklyn in… Brooklyn!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 25, 2010 9:07 pm

    Good article. I was planning on opening a boutique, but to tell the truth e commerce is the way forward now! less overheads and it gives you the opportunity to work from home!

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