Talk of motherhood, babies and child rearing continues to be a favourite topic of discussion in Pakistan, whether it’s among young mothers (or as the popular euphemism goes, ‘yummy mummies’) at Espresso or among older women over tea. But while there has been a great deal of growth in the urban retail sector for educational toys, clothing and furniture for children, scant detail has been paid to maternity wear.
Women are still stuck with the reliable option of having loose shirts stitched by a tailor to wear during the nine months of pregnancy. Even though the kaftan trend has helped women to stay on the style radar and be comfortable, the kaftan is steadily on its way out.
In sharp contrast to retailers abroad that stock maternity ranges, few retailers have taken the plunge. Bareeze’s Minnie Minors stocks a line of maternity wear. According to a salesperson, the two-year-old line is predominantly in pastel colours. With a full range, including t-shirts, jeans, nightwear, trousers and formal suits, the collection is a tad pricey, with jeans costing between Rs3,500 and 4,000 and a suit ranges between Rs5,000 and Rs6,000.
Maleeha Nasir’s Daaman launched its maternity wear range this month called Daaman Mama, which is priced between Rs1,500 and Rs2,300 and features cotton tunics in colourful prints with empire waistlines. Daaman plans to introduce four new styles every month.
In an e-mail interview, Nasir told The Express Tribune about the new line. “The idea was to make life easier for women during an exciting but difficult time in their lives,” she said. “Having gone through this recently, I realised that there were hardly any clothing options available for expecting mums. The last thing one wants to do during those physically challenging months is to trek to the bazaar and then waste further energy by trying to create and execute wearable yet smart outfits with one’s tailor!”
One of the complaints mothers-to-be have with maternity wear is that they are produced in pastel shades, particularly lemon yellow and baby pink. When asked if Daaman planned to change that, Maleeha Nasir said, “I really think the days of being the blushing mum to be are long gone. Women today are often working right up to their ninth month and like to wear their baby bumps proudly and smartly throughout. Our focus will be on flattering cuts that are practical and fun and make you feel pretty right up to D-day ...”
Designers in Pakistan haven’t ventured into designing maternity wear either, preferring to focus on their more profitable target market — bridal wear.
Samar Mehdi is the only high-end designer who has a maternity wear line called Positive. It launched in 2008 and stocks a full range, including formal wear. The response, according to the designer, has been “amazing!”
“I wish I had started it sooner,” Mehdi told The Express Tribune. “From high end brands to high street brands like Gap, they all make maternity wear ... I don’t know why other designers haven’t thought of it yet. I hadn’t either; I only did it after my two sons were born.”
The Positive line costs between Rs2,500 to Rs16,000, and Samar Mehdi plans to possibly stock it at Fashion Pakistan Lounge in Lahore in the near future.
While celebrities in Pakistan and India tend to wear loose kurtas as maternity wear options, models and actors in the West — including Angelina Jolie and Heidi Klum — opt for spangled tops, fitted dresses or flowing chiffon gowns for red carpet appearances which all translates into publicity for designers. Pakistani designers, by contrast, are missing out on an entire target segment by not offering maternity wear lines.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 11th, 2010.
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