Changing the Way We Think About Maternity Wear
Pregnancy is a paradox—life-changing yet fleeting. No one day is the same as another, and then it’s all over, our families remade forevermore. Over the course of those nine months, we upend everything, from our diets and our exercise regimens to beauty products and cleaning supplies. Fashion, though? More often than not, that’s an afterthought. If it fits, at least more or less, it’s wearable — or so the thinking goes. These pieces are only temporary, aren’t they? I’m growing a new life, does it really matter what I look like? Yet what we wear during this period matters more than ever. It’s essential to feel like we still look like ourselves, to be able to find clothing that’s fantastically comfortable against our skin, and to have access to pieces created with the same exacting sustainable standards we expect in every other aspect of our lives, whether it’s personal care, groceries, or the wardrobe we don outside these crucial nine months.
A major issue, however, is that the fashion industry isn’t really on a pregnant woman’s side when it comes to these needs. Even though desire for sustainable products across the spectrum is growing substantially, maternity wear has long been deemed a “throwaway” category, and much of that mindset stems from the industry itself. The majority of clothes made for this moment are designed to reflect pregnancy’s transitional nature rather than its significance. The result? Fast fashion tends to rule for nine months plus postpartum, the clothes’ provisional qualities built right into their design. This reinforces a kind of stopgap ethos when it comes to maternity wear, and it’s one I held myself while pregnant with my son.
Even though I was working through my pregnancy, I wore whatever was easy, which is to say, mostly mass-produced maternity workwear. I was still wearing it postpartum, which is when my infant son had not one but two adverse skin reactions severe enough to require a trip to his pediatrician. The culprit turned out to be harmful industrial dyes used in the maternity clothing I was still wearing at the time. Those clothes went directly into the waste bin they’d been destined for since their fabrication (and with treatment, my son’s skin cleared up), but to me, every part of this episode felt so wrong.
The pieces that caused my child’s allergic reaction hadn’t felt particularly enjoyable against my own skin, either. In terms of style, they were also lacking, as this was what I’d had to settle for after trying unsuccessfully to find high-quality, polished workwear that could accommodate a growing bump — an issue faced by all the working moms-to-be I knew. Had it really been necessary to forfeit both comfort and my professional image for the past year? As I changed out my clothing, my mindset shifted, too.
I came to realize that pregnancy is a moment when it is absolutely worthwhile to invest in higher value fashion, particularly for the workplace. I thought about all the women I know who are in the boardroom practically until they give birth. Sacrificing a crisp, timeless wardrobe and elevated workwear during this momentous time shouldn’t have to be their default choice. Nor should any of us have to temporarily shelve certain values, like wearing ethically-made fashion that’s safe not just for us but for the environment, simply because the right silhouettes don’t come made to those standards. From aesthetics to eco-friendliness, I wanted to bring together all these aspects in one long-lasting, workwear-ready capsule line, Emilia George.
Luckily, there’s never been a better selection of fabrics in modern history with which to create beautiful, safe, sustainable maternity wear. Let’s start with the Emilia George cupro: it’s organic, recycled, and the water necessary for its manufacture is recycled, too. The silky, biodegradable bamboo we’re using isn’t just OEKO-TEX ®-certified, it’s breathable, with a natural elasticity that easily adapts to a pregnant woman’s evolving shape. A third fabric favorite is Tencel Luxe. Fibers from sustainably sourced eucalyptus trees are woven via a closed-loop process, achieving a wrinkle-resistant, machine washable, and completely biodegradable textile. Best of all, all three of these fabrics feel amazing on—soft, supple and gentle to the touch. They also readily transform into maternity workwear that transitions gracefully from all-day meetings to after-work cocktail events. Able to address every concern a professional mom-to-be might have when she gets dressed, these textiles are emblematic of Emilia George.