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The Ultimate Guide to Starting a Maternity Activewear Business

by Boris Hodakel  • July 20, 2019 • 6 min read

maternity activewear

Finding your niche in the fashion market can be a turning point for any brand. As competition is high, creating a product that fulfils a need for consumers is essential for the long-term success of your new business. One sector of fashion that has seen a huge influx of popularity is activewear.

Sports clothing and general fitnesswear have always proved a hit in previous decades, but there is a slight difference in modern trends. And that’s activewear isn’t just worn for exercise any longer!

Athleisure is a massive trend in its own right, and anyone considering a new venture in fitness clothing should also consider consumers that wear this clothing outside of the gym. In particular, maternity active and athleisurewear is perfect for blending the two types of clothing to make life easier for expectant mothers.

There are several elements to consider before starting an activewear business. Everything from designing for your target market to finding the perfect fabric is an essential part of bringing your product to customers.

So if you’re thinking about starting a new maternity fitness brand or are expanding your current range to include pregnancy gym clothes, check out our guide to starting a business in this niche.

Research your target market

pregnancy sports clothing group

The foundations of any clothing business should start with creating styles that translate to your audience. In niche sectors, it is even more critical to ensure you tailor your product to the buyer. As fitness throughout pregnancy has seen a spike in popularity in the past few years, it is handy to evaluate whether you will also target local or national consumers based on the demographics and market research.

Market research is an area that should be explored when starting your business. The feedback from these studies will highlight what the audience wants and how they want the product to fit into their lifestyle. This insight will also showcase any areas for developing specialised products or gym clothing that can also be worn for daily activities.

Many women don’t look out for particular brands in maternity fitness clothing, they are often looking for something comfortable to workout in. So ensuring your brand meets expectations for consumers will see you fill a gap in the market.

Indoor and outdoor sportswear

Sports clothing covers a host of different activities. As more women take part in varying levels of exercise during pregnancy, it’s essential to design clothing to suit a range of sporting needs from running to yoga.

Indoor and outdoor sports clothing covers a wide selection of garments from lightweight jackets to sweat-resistant leggings. So deciding on whether you will create clothing to cover both workout environments or just focus on one will help to build your brand identity in the maternity activewear niche.

Athleisure clothing

athleisure garments leggings

For expectant mothers, activewear also pairs up as everyday casuals. This could be a profitable niche to team with a new maternity brand, and something as simple as designing yoga pants that also can be worn as comfortable daywear is something that fits this market.

Finding suitable fabrics

Above everything else, fabric is one of the most important aspects of your new activewear line. Individuals want to wear something that feels comfortable and doesn’t interrupt any aspect of their workout during use. This is particularly important for maternity fitness clothing, as a changing body shape can affect the look and feel of clothing.

Many activewear garments are formed with synthetic fabrics due to comfort, durability and moisture resistance. However, there are some natural options to consider too. Take a look at some of the most popular choices below:

Spandex (Lycra)

This well-known fabric provides a stretchy option for fitness clothing to ensure unrestricted movement and shape retention. This fabric is ideal for maternity activewear, as it gives a close fit for extra support and changes to the shape of the wearer.

Polypropylene

If you’re looking to create garments that are water and sweat resistant, polypropylene is an ideal option. This material is perfect for use in running clothing and stays dry no matter how much you sweat.

Bamboo

This eco-friendly alternative has tons of natural attributes for fitness clothing. The fibres offer anti-bacterial and sweat-wicking capabilities. Plus, it is also super soft too.

Wool

Believe it or not, wool isn’t just a fabric used in winter knitwear. Its natural properties make it a suitable material for sports clothing, as it is breathable, sweat-resistant and temperature regulating, which is perfect for both summer and winter fitness.

Polyester

This fabric is used in many garment types and offers a durable and lightweight solution for activewear. It is particularly suitable for outdoor running protection, as it provides protection against UV rays and acts as an insulator. However, the main drawback is that it doesn’t dry quickly, which can lead to bacteria growth and unpleasant smells after workouts.

Tencel

This eco-conscious fabric is created from wood pulp. It’s excellent for maternity fitness clothing, as it has a host of natural properties including wrinkle-resistance, sweat-resistance and breathability.

It’s best to avoid poor quality cotton in maternity workout clothes. When the material becomes wet or moist due to sweating, it can cause uncomfortable chafing for the wearer.

For more information on eco-friendly fabrics and green alternatives, take a look at - Organic fabric and eco-friendly fashion alternatives in clothing manufacturing.

maternity sportswear

Testing the fabric

Next up is testing the fabric to make sure it can handle the range of uses your customers will put it through. There are a few areas to check, so get some samples and learn all about the technicalities of the material before committing to production.

Stretch

This might seem like an obvious one, but how much the material stretches and pings back to shape can determine its suitability. Its best to check the percentage of stretch it has to see how this could apply to alternate sizing. Plus also looking at how the material looks (i.e. the colour and print) after it has been stretched will give you an idea of the wearability and durability of the fabric.

Moisture-resistance

If you’re looking to produce maternity exercise wear with moisture-wicking material, testing the fabric will help to see how effective it is. Some fabrics dry faster than others, plus some also have water-resistant properties, so water just runs straight off.

sports fabric moisture resistance

Test run your garments

The best way to test any fabric for a fitness clothing range is to wear it and put it through its paces. Before production, you won’t have the exact fit samples, but there should be some examples of what your manufacturer has produced before to give you a good idea. Take a look at our checklist for your first real test:

  • Does the material ride down during wear?
  • Does it stretch enough for bump growth during pregnancy?
  • Is the fabric comfortable?
  • Is the fabric flexible?
  • Is the fit correct?
  • Does the print/colour look distorted during wear?
  • Is the stitching strong and secure?

Sizing

Sizing is a critical area for maternity clothing brands. You will be creating garments that need to consider body changes during pregnancy but also establish a range incorporates standard sizing. If you have limited experience in this area, hire the help of a pattern maker to assist in the grading of your activewear range.

maternity wear measuring

Choosing an activewear manufacturer

The next step is finding a manufacturing partner to help bring your products to life. Many clothing factories have experience in a variety of niches, but it can be helpful to source a specialist for maternity activewear.

Deciding whether you need full assistance or just final production of your designs is another key consideration.

Full Package Production (FPP)

New fashion brands and small businesses may benefit from a Full Production Package (FPP). This service enables brands to take their ideas and concepts straight to a clothing manufacturer who will design and produce their products. This option can be more expensive than other manufacturing processes, but it takes away the hassle for new brands or designers.

Cut, Make, Trim (CMT) production

For established maternity wear brands that are looking to expand their product range, CMT production is a great option. You will probably be aware of the design aspects and pattern creation of a clothing line and can take your product straight to the factory for production. This option is more cost-effective for many businesses but does require prior knowledge to avoid costly mistakes or miscommunication.

To learn more about manufacturing methods, take a look at our blog – Cut and sew manufacturers (CMT) or full package (FPP) manufacturing: Choosing what’s right for you.

Discover maternity activewear manufacturers at Sewport

Finding the perfect production partner is simple with Sewport’s innovative platform. You don’t have to search for hours on the Internet, as our handy filter enables you to select manufacturers based on your requirements.

If you’re starting out, there is the option to choose factories that accept low minimum orders to accommodate your budget. However, if you’re looking to scale up, there are also plenty of suppliers that can assist in large-scale production.

Joining Sewport is easy. Create a free account here and find the right manufacturer for your project.

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About the author:

Boris Hodakel is the founder and CEO of Sewport - an online marketplace connecting brands and manufacturers, former founder of various clothing manufacturing services. He is passionate about e-commerce, marketing and production digitisation. Connect with Boris on LinkedIn.