17 February 2020
Maternitywear was non-existent until a couple of years back and it got recognition very recently; with time, a solution-based category has become a necessity for the new mothers.“The maternitywear market has become the new ‘it’ in the Indian apparel industry. Today’s working women no more prefer shabby nighties; they’re picky about the fabric, flow and design of the garments they wear. These days, many online and offline maternity brands offer a wide range of options for moms-to-be. Fast fashion and ready-to-wear brands are also looking at shelving fashion for these new mums,” asserts Nidhi Yadav, Creative Head & Founder, AKS Clothing.
The growing necessity/demand of the segment has led to a number of brands venturing into it,including H&M, Zara and Zivame. According to a report, the maternitywear industry in India was estimated at Rs. 2,000 crore in 2017, and is growing at around 15-17 per cent year-on-year, thereby holding enormous potential for this burgeoning fashion retail vertical.
“The needs after the baby is born are completely different from those during pregnancy. I think post-maternitywear has to be completely nursing-friendly. Working nursing mothers are the growth drivers in comparison to pregnant women. On an average, the mass market, which is 52-53 per cent of India’s population, is spending 1-1.5 lakh in 4 years of parenting and childcare when they’re raising a kid and living through the pregnancy journey. These are just ballpark figures which have led the mom and childcare market to be as large as a US $ 74 billion in India today between products and services put together. This is growing at about 30-35 per cent on year-on-year basis,” informs Anvita Dekhane, Chief of Staff, BabyChakra.
In terms of product assortment, pre-natalwear includes clothing, gowns, support bras and briefs. Post-natalwear includes nursing bras, sleep bras, nursing aprons, nursing tops, nursing pads, bra tank tops, vests, maternity briefs, gowns and nighties, which have zippers and double panels on both sides to nurse. Other nursing accessories include breast pumps, gel pads, breast pumps, nursing bibs, shapewear, lotions, nipple protectors and feeding pillows.
“Out of all the product assortment priced between Rs. 699 and Rs. 2,499, dresses and tops are functionally the most appropriate nursingwear for our aware and conscious set of consumers. We have consciously kept our range affordable to take care of the fact that most of the attires may not be used post pregnancy except for nursingwear. Almost 35 per cent of overall revenue is achieved from the maternitywear range. The fastest moving sub-category at Abiti Bella is dresses; maxi dresses are hot favourites in maternitywear as they smoothly accommodate the mothers throughout their pregnancy and Indian women prefer garments that help them cover appropriately,” avers Rakhi Khera, Managing Director, Abiti Bella.
The manufacturing of a maternitywear garment is not the same as other merchandise and the manufacturing firms put in a lot of innovation and research-driven insights to come up with a collection that’s fit for the pregnant or nursing moms.According to Nidhi, “For maternitywear, despite the weather condition, the preference is natural, breathable fabrics or soft woolens. In line with this, we prefer to work with cottons, linens, bon-bon, bengaline, lycra and stretch denims for our merchandise. The difference lies in the fit specifications, materials used and the care with which each item is created, checked and rechecked before leaving the warehouse.”
Besides using best of fabrics and technology, manufacturers are also going for innovation to offer the best they can to the expectant or new mothers. Nesa Maternity Wear (based out of Mumbai) is one such manufacturing firm which is using innovation for safeguarding the mothers and their babies from harmful UV radiation.
“The radiation affects you when you have more liquid content in your body. Normally, our body consists of 70-80 per cent water but when a woman is pregnant, the water content in her womb increases and so, the radiation is targeted on that area. Our endeavour is to create a safe environment for the foetus and the mother. The technology we use in these garments converts the radiation energy into other forms of energy, thereby considerably lessening the effects of it,” asserts Vikas Singh, Chief RF Engineer, Nesa Maternity Wear.
Challenges faced by the maternitywear market
The industry players opine that the demand is going to only increase, and the growing population of working mothers is going to be the key driver of the segment.Besides, the category is also on its way to enter Tier-2, Tier-3 and beyond regions of the country. The ease of delivery from online channels is really helping the brands in the category (which are mostly online firms) gain a lot of ground.