Luni Maternity designs by Katie MangaiModels: Clementine George (62 Management), Rosa Berry Vaughn (Aart Models), Jessica Porter (Aart Models). Photograph by Otago Polytechnic

Fitting fashion

Katie Mangai is designing comfortable and beautiful clothes for pregnant women.

Business women struggle to maintain a professional wardrobe during pregnancy. Maternity wear is designed for the average size woman at 7 months of pregnancy. Not only does that make it especially difficult for petite or plus-sized women to find something suitable, but the clothing can be both too loose at earlier stages of pregnancy and too tight later or if she is carrying twins. It is also expensive to buy clothes that are only going to be used for a short period of time.

Coming to her fashion studies after a business career Katie Mangai designed a range of maternity wear for her final year portfolio. Finding the right niche market is key to financial sustainability, and she decided pregnant women had a need that she could help meet. The challenge of designing maternity wear appealed to her, because women change shape and size during pregnancy. Katie wants her designs to enable women to be comfortable and confident about their professional image. 

Katie also participated in the Audacious student entrepreneurship programme and won the Firebrand Transformational Package for her business solution. Her online survey showed that women were happy to borrow maternity clothing from friends or relatives to compile a pregnancy wardrobe, so Katie developed a rental subscription plan. For a monthly fee women will be able to compile a capsule wardrobe with items that suit their style and palette from Katie's range of clothing. When they no longer fit well, they can exchange them for differently sized items. For the next stage of development of her business Luni Maternity, Katie is looking for test customers to give feedback on concept designs and sizing.