Mother of all Styles!

Why should dads have all the fun? For­get the ugly, loose preg­nancy cloth­ing – ma­ter­nity wear brands are de­ter­mined to en­sure that ex­pec­tant and new moth­ers are styled like no other! Chi­tra Bala­sub­ra­ma­niam shines a spot­light on this mar­ket seg­ment.

Apparel - - Contents -

A look at fash­ionale in­no­va­tions in the ma­ter­nity wear mar­ket in In­dia

Gone are the days of loose cloth­ing, over­sized dresses and un­flat­ter­ing cuts dom­i­nat­ing the styles avail­able to preg­nant women. The mod­ern day mommy-to-be is as stylish while preg­nant, as she was be­fore. The driv­ing force be­hind this style rev­o­lu­tion has pri­mar­ily been chang­ing per­cep­tions of ma­ter­nity and stylish preg­nant celebri­ties. Bol­ly­wood has had its share of glam­orous moms – from Ka­reena Kapoor Khan, Soha Ali Khan to Aish­warya Rai Bachchan… many A-List ac­tresses worked and shot dur­ing their preg­nancy. They wore stylish clothes and showed off their preg­nancy glow with élan. It has be­come a fash­ion req­ui­site of sorts for women to dress well dur­ing this phase.

Pre­vi­ously, ex­pec­tant moth­ers were dis­suaded from spend­ing money on ma­ter­nity wear, rea­son­ing that the clothes would prob­a­bly go to waste af­ter de­liv­ery, or that chang­ing body shapes would mean con­stant re­fits. The fast fash­ion and highly doc­u­mented cul­ture of the 21st Cen­tury has chal­lenged these no­tions – giv­ing rise to the de­mand for flat­ter­ing and fash­ion­able ma­ter­nity cloth­ing.


Mar­riage and child­birth are cel­e­brated with much en­thu­si­asm in In­dia. There are cer­e­monies for the mom-to-be, but the ma­ter­nity wear mar­ket in In­dia was once the ex­clu­sive do­main of the neigh­bour­hood tai­lor. Of­ten, other women in the house­hold would also step in to tai­lor loose shape­less gar­ments for their preg­nant rel­a­tive. Hand-me-downs were also used by many women. These were care­fully pre­served for the next mother-to-be. These prac­tises are slowly be­ing phased away.

To­day, the ma­ter­nity wear seg­ment is a R1000 crore mar­ket and is record­ing good growth. The rea­sons for this are not dif­fi­cult to fathom. Along with the rise in the pur­chas­ing power of mid­dle in­come group mem­bers, the grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of work­ing women is also driv­ing this new de­mand. These pro­fes­sional women need some­thing stylish and el­e­gant for the work­place and have to ad­here to dress codes even while be­ing preg­nant.

Mar­keters have recog­nised this op­por­tu­nity and have be­come ea­ger to cash in on it. Ken Re­search has come out with a re­port ti­tled 'In­dia Ma­ter­nity and Baby Care In­dus­try Out­look to 2018 - Hy­brid Ex­pan­sion of Re­tail and On­line Chan­nels to Lead Fu­ture Growth'. The fact that this seg­ment has been stud­ied in depth and con­sid­ered large enough to war­rant a de­tailed re­port goes to show how im­por­tant this seg­ment is. As per this study, “The In­dian ma­ter­nity and baby care prod­ucts mar­ket has been wit­ness­ing tremen­dous growth in the last few years in com­par­i­son to the other emerg­ing mar­kets across the world. The ma­ter­nity prod­ucts in­dus­try in In­dia recorded a CAGR of 16.0 per cent from 2008-2013.”


In­ter­na­tion­ally, ma­ter­nity wear is a lu­cra­tive mar­ket even where pop­u­la­tion growth rates are low. The rea­son for this is that with greater dis­pos­able in­comes, women are look­ing for stylish op­tions to wear and not just drape loose fit­ting gar­ments. What’s more, there are now plenty of brands to choose from. As per a mar­ket re­search re­port on www.trans­paren­cy­mar­ke­tre­, “Based on re­gions, the mar­ket is clas­si­fied into North Amer­ica, Europe, Asia Pa­cific, Mid­dle East and Africa and Latin Amer­ica. Ma­jor coun­tries cov­ered un­der the scope of the re­search in­clude US, Ger­many, UK, France, Italy, In­dia, China, Ja­pan, UAE, South Africa and Latin Amer­ica. Europe, Mid­dle East and Africa are ex­pected to lead the mar­ket through­out the fore­cast pe­riod on ac­count of the eco­nomic re­cov­ery which re­sulted in an in­creased num­ber of women join­ing the work­force. Fur­ther, a num­ber of preg­nant women have con­tin­ued to work even un­til the ad­vanced stages of preg­nancy.” Glob­ally, given the huge num­bers, there is plenty of com­pe­ti­tion and brands com­ing up with new launches. As www.trans­paren­cy­mar­ke­tre­ puts it, “The global ma­ter­nity wear mar­ket is marked by some in­tense com­pe­ti­tion from the ma­jor play­ers op­er­at­ing in this mar­ket. Fre­quent merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions, joint ven­tures and part­ner­ships prod­uct in­no­va­tions and ge­o­graph­i­cal ex­pan­sions are some of the key strate­gies adopted by these play­ers in or­der to en­sure long term sus­te­nance in the mar­ket. No­table play­ers in­clude, Amoralia, Ar­ca­dia Group, Gap, Mother­care, Is­abella Oliver and var­i­ous oth­ers. The com­pe­ti­tion among these play­ers is ma­jorly based on de­sign, qual­ity, va­ri­ety and colour.”


Brands have re­sponded to the rise in de­mand by launch­ing a range of stylish clothes. These cover the baby bump yet also flat­ter the rest of the body. The ca­sual and for­mal wear in­dus­try has been man­u­fac­tur­ing a range of t-shirts, tops, trousers and west­ern at­tire. The range of cloth­ing avail­able also in­cludes ac­tive wear and sports­wear. Since many women at­tend La­maze classes, Yoga and other fit­ness pro­grammes to help with labour and preg­nancy, ac­tive wear is a pop­u­lar seg­ment for ex­pect­ing women.

This trend is not re­stricted to ur­ban ar­eas; even tier II cities are show­ing an in­crease in the pref­er­ence for such prod­ucts. In In­dia, the giants in the ma­ter­nity wear busi­ness are Mother­care, Mom & Me, Firstcry, etc. Mother­care is an in­ter­na­tional brand which has been brought to In­dia by Shop­pers Stop. The In­dian brands of­fer plenty of fash­ion­able eth­nic wear. Also on of­fer are com­fort­able ma­ter­nity trousers with span­dex, churi­dars with full belly cov­er­age, and leg­gings with ribbed pan­els. Nurs­ing tops and in­ner wear are made with par­tic­u­lar at­ten­tion to the chang­ing bod­ies of ex­pect­ing moth­ers. The need for new moth­ers to wear stylish clothes is also mar­keted by brands as con­tribut­ing to the mother’s emo­tional well-be­ing post de­liv­ery.


The in­ter­net show­cases the wide range of ma­ter­nity wear avail­able in In­dia. The ads show women with the baby bump so that the buy­ers have a clear idea how the dress would ap­pear on them. and, are some of the largest on­line por­tals which have a range of stylish clothes for moms to be.

The ma­ter­nity wear mar­ket is a very price con­scious one. Since these clothes are used for a short du­ra­tion, the em­pha­sis is on com­fort, good fit­ting and af­ford­able prices. Stand­alone stores in these cat­e­gories are lim­ited. Since it is a niche mar­ket, e-com­merce is the pref­fered chan­nel for sale, reach­ing a wide au­di­ence and also re­duc­ing the cost of re­tail space.


As in ev­ery seg­ment, the ma­ter­nity wear mar­ket is also try­ing its hand at sus­tain­able and or­ganic fab­rics. In In­dia, Zeme Or­gan­ics sells or­ganic ma­ter­nity wear on­line. How­ever, since ma­ter­nity cloth­ing is al­ready a niche mar­ket, and with or­ganic cloth­ing usu­ally seen as a more ex­pen­sive al­ter­na­tive, it is yet to make in­roads in this seg­ment.

In­ter­na­tion­ally though, there are plenty of brands which of­fer stylish al­ter­na­tives in or­ganic ma­ter­nity wear, which of­fer 100 per cent sus­tain­able cloth­ing. The ma­te­ri­als used in­clude or­ganic cot­ton, re­cy­cled cot­ton, ly­co­cell, re­cy­cled polyamide and re­cy­cled polyester. What makes these brands stand out is their trans­parency in pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion on their prod­ucts, the ma­te­rial (fi­bre and fab­ric) and man­u­fac­tur­ing.

With so many in­no­va­tions, the ma­ter­nity wear mar­ket is only ex­pected to grow, promis­ing more bun­dles of joy to ex­pect­ing moth­ers!


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