When I first started work on Chapter Goods, people repeatedly referred to the line as “maternity wear,” rather than what it really is: clothing tailored to the particular needs of breastfeeding moms. It was difficult, it seemed, for people to comprehend the difference. And while I grew a little weary of correcting people – no, no, this is for AFTER the baby comes – I knew we couldn’t let it go. Because for me, this mix-up is representative of a much bigger problem: the degree to which the needs of postpartum women are overlooked in our society.
Maternity wear – once a tiny portion of the fashion industry – has ballooned into a $2 billion industry that serves six million women across the country every year. While in the past a growing belly was something to hide, women today are openly celebrating their bumps with clothing designed to make them feel like the beautiful moms-to-be that they are. Why then, if the majority of these women will go on to breastfeed their babies, are there so few apparel options for nursing moms?
The baby industrial complex is adept at making expecting parents feel like they need infinite piles of new stuff. But here’s the thing: you prepare and buy so much during pregnancy, but with mostly the baby in mind. No one pays much attention to what moms will need. In one particularly disconcerting example, a doctor compared postpartum women to candy wrappers – once the goods are out, the wrapper is simply tossed away.
While it’s true that the need to focus greater attention on postpartum health and wellness goes far beyond the clothes we wear, it’s also true that a woman’s feelings about postpartum fashion are anything but superficial. Yes, there are tactical wardrobe questions (how can I look good/cute/professional while breastfeeding?), but at the core of many postpartum women’s concerns lives profound questions about personal identity: How can I still feel like myself? How can I regain the freedom to go about my day with confidence? When so many demands are being made on my body in the service of another, how can I also reclaim it for myself?
Chapter Goods is dedicated to helping postpartum women out of a deep desire to let new moms know their needs should not be ignored. In creating the first sustainably made, postpartum capsule collection, we are shedding light on one of life’s most important and challenging transitions. And we’re doing our very best to help you look yours, because we know the value of feeling capable when navigating the new world of motherhood. Just like the women we serve, our clothes are designed to be enduring, functional, and fashion-forward. Giving postpartum women higher-quality clothing options, designed specifically for their needs, is not only critical to helping society better nourish our babies, it is essential to restoring a woman’s sense of self after one of life’s greatest transitions.
Here to stick with you through this Chapter,
Haylie Rudy Schwartz