Nike Just Launched Its First-Ever Maternity Collection—And This Piece Is the Clear Standout

"What I love about working in sport is that the future gets set by the athlete," said Carmen Zolman, senior design director at Nike. Despite the word's gold-medal connotation, the term "athlete" doesn't confine itself to Olympians and World Champions. Athletes are anyone, anywhere who move. And with Nike (M)—the brand's first maternity collection available September 15—the athleticwear brand is empowering expecting mothers to do just that.

Three years in the making, the line takes its inspiration from 150,000 body scans Nike took of women around the world to gain a better understanding of how the body changes throughout all three trimesters. The result is a four-piece ensemble that's ready to take on any workout with a sports bra, a tank, a tight, and perhaps the shining start of the line: a shape-shifting jacket (shown above) that allows the wearer to transition seamlessly from exercising to breastfeeding. Each garment was made from a recycled bronze material that was selected from 70 materials tested for the line.

According to Zolman, this next step in innovation continues Nike's legacy of serving women in all activities, from buying their first sports bra onward. "Our playing field has widened: We're serving women in all activities, all body shapes, and now all stages of life," said Zolman. "We're also thinking more about the barriers that stand in the way of healthy lifestyles. There are dropout moments, stages of her life where she's faced with the choice of keeping or losing sports. Our focus here today is one of the most transformative stages of a woman's life: motherhood."

There's no denying the need for a collection like this one. Although research shows that continuing sport during pregnancy reduces backache, boosts mood, and helps promote better sleep patterns, research also indicates that women tend to decrease the amount of exercise during pregnancy. "It's not just a nine-month period we're talking about. For many women, if they have two to three children—which is an average—this can be a 7- to 10-year journey of her life of pre-, pregnant, and postpartum needs," Zolman points out. While rigorous activities might not be the right choice for every pregnancy (and every mother should certainly connect with their own doctor to decide what's right for them) Nike's new collection is based on the idea that every woman should have the choice to move during pregnancy—and feel comfortable doing so.

Photo: Nike

Each of the pieces in the new line tackles one or more of the obstacles that may bar pregnant women from their favorite sweat endeavors. Just listen to this roll call. The tights contain Nike’s stretchiest fabric ever that partners up with a wide waistband that grows comfortably as the baby does (and then can be folded down postpartum). The sports bra uses an elastic rib band slider to adapt throughout your pregnancy, and the inner-panel includes room for a nursing pump. An easy, peasy scoop neck tank top makes nursing on-the-go doubly simple. And then, of course, there's the jacket, which has a "tulip" design that allows you to wear it in reverse during month after month of pregnancy. Once your baby is born, the jacket can be flipped and worn for discreet breastfeeding anywhere.

"Motherhood is the start of a new stage; it's not a stop in a woman's sports journey," said Zolman. "We're excited about the opportunity to continue serving and inspiring her at this next stage."

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