Nike on Tuesday unveiled its first dedicated maternity collection, dubbed "Nike (M)," which is set to launch in North America, Europe and Africa on Sept. 17. The collection includes four "essentials:" a pullover, a bra, a tanktop and a tight, according to a company blog post.
The line is aimed at supporting women "during all stages of pregnancy and beyond" and was created by analyzing over 150,000 comparison scans of non-pregnant and pregnant women. Nike also gathered feedback from close to 30 female athletes who were pregnant or postpartum during the creation process.
Retired track and field athlete Perri Edwards noted in the release that the bra allows for "easy access for when I want to breastfeed. The leggings give you options of wearing over your tummy or showing your tummy, and the maternity shirt has this extra material for the extra weight that I'm carrying."
Nike is taking a page from Reebok's playbook, adding a maternity collection a little over a year after Reebok launched its own line for new and expectant mothers.
It also comes a little over a year after Nike-sponsored athlete, Alysia Montaño, wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times that asserted that the company was deficient in its support for pregnant athletes. Her complaints about the treatment of pregnant athletes were followed by an announcement from Nike that it was changing its policies. In a statement on its website following the opinion piece, Nike said that the company standardized its approach to "support our female athletes during pregnancy," but acknowledged that "we can go even further."
It's also another step in Nike's goal of catering to the female athlete. In 2019, the retailer grew its women's business by double digits, and then-CEO Mark Parker said it was "hard to overstate how important this year has been to the evolution of the women's offense at Nike." This newest line extends Nike into yet another aspect of women's lives — and into an underserved niche.
"The more we listened to expecting mothers and postpartum mothers, the more we learned, reworked and innovated through inclusive design," Carmen Zolman, Nike senior design director for Apparel Innovation, said in a statement. "There are so many reasons that make sticking to sport difficult through pregnancy and motherhood, but we see this chapter as anything but a stopgap in a woman's journey through sport."
The retailer also outlined its business case for creating products for pregnant women in the release, noting that pregnant and postpartum customers often find it difficult to get supportive products; the company also noted that many women have multiple children, meaning "the journey navigating motherhood from pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and postpartum can be up to 10 years."
The retailer has made similar moves in the past, creating products for communities that are not always catered to, including through inclusive sizing efforts and the launch of the Pro Hijab. In January of last year, the retailer also pushed into Lululemon's yoga-based athleisure space with the launch of its first yoga apparel line.