The four-piece collection, which consists of a tank top, sports bra, tight and cover-up, will launch on Sept. 17 on the company’s e-commerce site.
Although the company made no mention of it, this introduction comes not long after Nike was heavily criticized last year for its maternity policies after Olympians Alysia Montaño and Kara Goucher revealed in an op-ed piece in The New York Times that their contracts did not guarantee them protection during pregnancy and postpartum. After a very public backlash, Nike revealed plans to waive performance reductions for 12 months for athletes who had babies. It has since expanded that timeframe to 18 months.
In launching Nike M, the company said it worked closely with some 30 of the female athletes on its roster who were either pregnant or postpartum to gather their input and ideas for the collection. They include several who are featured in the marketing materials for the line, including golfer Michelle Wie West and British track and field athlete Perri Edwards.
In a briefing prior to the launch, Carmen Zolman, senior design director of apparel innovation, said the company had been working on the idea “for the better part of three years” and spent the past year investigating how a woman’s body changes during pregnancy by researching some 150,000 scans from around the world.
It tested 70 materials before narrowing them down to nine, including a recycled bronze material, composed of 83 percent recycled polyester, for the tight; 88 percent recycled polyester for the tank, and 78 percent recycled polyester and 10 percent organic cotton for the cover-up. The fabrics stretch, wick sweat, manage moisture and offer extra padding.
The tight is designed with a wide waistband that expands throughout the pregnancy and folds down postpartum. It also replaced a compression fit for an easy on-and-off design. Both the sports bra and the cover-up allow for nursing and pumping.
Nike has been heightening its efforts to better fulfill the needs of the female athlete, and Zolman said the brand has discovered that there are several “drop-off moments” for women and sports, including the need for the first sports bra as well as impending motherhood.
But the brand drew from its experience with other female-skewed collections such as the Performance Hijab, Plus Size, Victory Swim and Yoga for Every Body for Nike M.
“Motherhood should be the start of a new stage — not a stop — in a woman’s sport journey,” the brand said.
It’s a potentially lucrative market. If a woman has two to three children in her lifetime, it necessitates seven to 10 years of pregnant and postpartum needs for sports apparel, the company said.
The Swoosh bra will retail for $55; the pullover for $85; the tank for $45, and the One Tight for $60.