There are two stages in a woman’s life (well, actually there could be more, but for the sake of this argument it’s two) when your activity levels and willingness to take part in sports can drastically fall.
The first is during puberty when your body changes and you’re not sure if you’ll ever find the right sports bra to stop your chest hurting every time you attempt to run.
And the second is during pregnancy and motherhood, when again your body changes in uncontrollable ways, and where once you would have burpeed, now your movement is restricted by a growing bump.
This is exactly why the design team at Nike has taken on an important time in many women’s lives: pregnancy and early motherhood.
Long gone is the adage that women should put their feet up and rest for the entire 9 months of pregnancy (eating for two has also been debunked sadly).
Now, there is much more emphasis on the importance of movement and activity, to stay well during pregnancy and to rebuild strength after birth.
Of course, this is all well and good but when your body is changing like never before, it’s not always easy to find the right workout gear that fits and does what you’re used to your workout gear doing: essentially feeling good on, fitting well and maybe just maybe, making you want to run that little bit faster.
Enter NIKE (M), which is launching after three years in the making. For senior design director Carmen Zolman, now, more than ever, is the right time to bring this collection to the market: ‘We noticed many women hacking their Nike apparel to make it work for them longer throughout their pregnancy…We wanted to bring the full power of Nike sport science to maternity and truly listen, learn and innovate for her at this stage of motherhood so it could be a new stage – not a stop – in her sport journey,’ she tells ELLE.
To create the collection, which comprises of four pieces including a tulip-hemmed pullover, a Swoosh bra, a tank top and leggings, designers at NIKE worked with mums and mums-to-be to really understand the changes that their bodies were undergoing.
They also analysed 150,000 body scans and tested over 70 materials to make sure that they were designing with as much expertise as possible.
What’s more, when something wasn’t working, they changed it to suit how women feel - and how many times pregnant women might need a bathroom break. ‘A specific learning that came to life - one of the designers, who was pregnant at the time, was looking to unlock an insight of ‘ease of on + off’ due to going to the bathroom more frequently while pregnant,’ Carmen explains.
‘Originally the team was building out a tight that had compression and support components, but after wear testing the tight for a 12-hour day, they pivoted and changed the way they constructed the garment. We exchanged the design lines of what it looked like; removed all elastics; changed seaming; adapted construction around belly. This resulted in a solution: versatility of over the belly, under the belly and ease of on/off as well as comfort and performance.’
One of the best things about the collection, which ranges in price from £31.95 for the tank to £69.95 for the pullover, is that it doesn’t necessarily shout, ‘MATERNITY! I’M A PREGNANT WOMAN TRYING TO WORK OUT HERE’.
This was important to Carmen when she came to designing: ‘We wanted the collection to effortlessly fit into your life. I distinctly remember being pregnant, even 10 years ago now, and how I felt when I could no longer fit in my Nike sports apparel but wanted to stay active. Transitioning to maternity at the time felt like abandoning my personal style and impacted my confidence in staying active. So for example in the tank top, which in traditional maternity collections might utilise ruching on the side of the belly for shaping, we engineered the necessary growth changes of the belly into the stretch and recovery of the fabric and the pattern engineering.’
The conversation around women’s sport has been changing for the better over the past few years. This new collection is one more positive affirmation that sport and movement can be part of a woman’s life, at all stages. I think our bumps would approve.
The collection will be available in retail from the 17th September on Nike.com and from Nike Town London
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