By  on October 3, 2007

LOS ANGELES — If there was a lesson to be learned at the second biannual MOM2B trade show, it was that pregnant women don't want to lose their fashion edge.

To that end, some 140 vendors crowded the 11th floor of the Cooper Design Space here from Sept. 30 to Oct. 1 to display maternity goods aimed at trend-conscious expectant mothers. The 300 buyers who attended got their pick of chic apparel, beauty products and assorted tots paraphernalia.

High-end maternity clothing line Julou's spring-summer collection, for instance, featured jersey tank dresses, halter wraps and chiffon keyhole tunics. Charcoal and metallic hues were color highlights, and prices ranged from $35 to $50 wholesale for knits, $75 to $90 for silk items and around $56 for denim.

"We are looking at moms that are fashion-forward and who transition easily into pregnancy and back," said Kathy Fowler, vice president of marketing at the Canadian brand.

The Hollywood baby boom — as evidenced by Halle Berry and Nicole Richie, among others — doesn't show any signs of letting up, and continues to boost brands that catch the spotlight. For example, photos of Tori Spelling wearing a wrap baby carrier by MetroMamma helped catapult the Las Vegas-based company into 65 stores across the U.S.

"They [celebrities] direct our trends," co-founder Leah Mamone said. MetroMamma's best-selling wrap carrier is a black embellished style that wholesales for $65.

The current maternity fashions haven't been a boon to all. Song Pardue, chief executive officer of eight-unit chain Pickles & Ice Cream, said the desire of pregnant women for ready-to-wear has eaten into sales of traditional maternity clothes. "Smaller women can wear ready-to-wear; if they can't do it for all the pregnancy, they can at least for five months," she explained. "All maternity has seen it impact our business for a little bit."

But Pardue projected that comfort would ultimately prevail in the market and added that manufacturers are adjusting by creating so-called fourth-trimester items that work both for pregnancy and after. "Designers are making things nursing-adaptive, which is a good selling point," she said.

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