Many of the people I’ve met in the last 6 months tell me what a clever idea it is to launch such a niche product, maternity trousers, in a niche market, maternity wear.
A recently published UK Maternity wear report sized the 2009 market at £140m with trousers being the most popular item bought, followed by tops and jeans. With the age of first time mothers rising, it is no surprise that many of them work during pregnancy and need to look smart in the office.
While it is true to an extent that being a small company and focusing only on maternity trousers brings its benefits from design, production to sales, it also has the flipside that the market is by all means limited and in our case to a very short, albeit special, period in a woman’s life. The need for us to branch out beyond the world of tailored maternity trousers has meant that we are considering the next stage of growth, to skirts and more casual summer trousers and shorts, while bearing in mind the current climate. The calls from shops for us to provide them with a full collection including tops, dresses and jackets have fallen on deaf ears for the time being, as our philosophy is based on the grounds that you can turn anywhere, most likely your favourite brands, for the top half by going up a size or two, but to have great trousers and skirts while pregnant you need to buy the real deal.
With the high street fashion chains such as Zara and H&M already catering to women’s fashion needs, they’ve started capitalising on their customer base by bringing out very small limited maternity ranges which include a bit of everything; trousers, skirts, jeans and tops. Here I am surprised to find that even with those vast resources to hand, human and financial, it has been hard for them to get the maternity range right and they’ve still got work to do.
This is a lesson that I’m taking to heart. I am remaining very cautious and conservative about expanding the brand into other product categories: growing one (very small) step at a time.