Nike Makes First Foray into Maternity Wear

    • The sportswear giant is launching “Nike (M)” in September.
    • Last year, Nike faced criticism for its pregnancy policies for athlete signees.

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Nike is launching its first dedicated maternity line amid a larger boom in the athleticwear category likely due to conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The collection, called “Nike (M),” will “support women during all stages of pregnancy and beyond,” the company said in an announcement that featured testimonies from some of its top athlete signees who are also mothers, including U.S. women’s national soccer team player Alex Morgan.

The line launches on Sept. 17, and notably comes a year-and-a-half after the company came under fire after several high-profile female athletes, including runner Allyson Felix, publicly criticized its policies around pregnancy. Felix left the sportswear giant and instead signed with Gap-owned brand Athleta — Nike changed its policies shortly thereafter. 

Nike says it designed the new line by “combing through pregnancy data findings with analytics from more than 150,000 comparison scans of non-pregnant women against those of pregnant women,” and gathering feedback from around 30 female athletes who were pregnant or postpartum.

“The more we listened to expecting mothers and postpartum mothers, the more we learned, reworked and innovated through inclusive design,” Carmen Zolman, a Nike senior design director, said. “It’s the project of a lifetime to work in lockstep with all kinds of mothers to bring to life a capsule that truly supports women’s relationship with sport during such a transformative time in their lives.”

The capsule collection, developed over three years, includes four pieces: the Nike (M) Pullover, the Nike (M) Swoosh Bra, the Nike (M) Tank and Nike One (M) Tight. All of the pieces have maternity-specific functions, like easy access for nursing. It’s designed with sustainable materials — the pieces range from 78 to 88% recycled polyester.

“It’s like skin: it’ll just shrink back. It grows with you. It decreased in size with you,” golfer and Nike athlete Michelle Wie West, who had her first child in June, said in the announcement.   

The athleticwear category, generally, has seen a boost attributed to the increased focus on health and fitness activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Nike reported that its online sales were up 75% in the quarter ending in May, though it reported year-over-year revenue loss of 38%, citing the closure of the majority of its stories during the timeframe. Adidas reported that despite a 35% drop in revenue in its quarter ending in June, its online sales were up 93%.

Further, in a survey conducted by the company, Adidas found that about 50% of 18 to 34-year-olds plan to exercise more as a result of the pandemic, and about 75% of surveyed companies plan to shift their employees to remote full-time even after the pandemic. The first finding signals a potential boost to fitness-specific gear and apparel, and the second, a boost to athleisure wear. 

Retailer Dick’s Sporting Goods reported a 194% increase in online sales during its third quarter, bolstered by substantial growth in the apparel and footwear categories.