Novel maternity wear service

 Luni founder Katie Mangai believes modern maternity wear doesn’t need to be frumpy. PHOTO: SIMON...
Luni founder Katie Mangai believes modern maternity wear doesn’t need to be frumpy. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
Startup Dunedin’s Audacious programme helps University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic students bring their creative ideas to fruition. This week, reporter Simon Henderson talks to a fashion design student finding a new way to make maternity wear less of a hassle.

Celebrating your baby bump can be a wonderful time for expectant mothers, but when it comes to feeling fashionable sometimes maternity options can be limited.

Otago Polytechnic fashion design student Katie Mangai wants to change that by taking the stress out of finding fashion that fits during pregnancy.

She has created Luni, a subscription service for maternity wear, where customers will be able to sign up for a monthly service and select from a variety of outfits that can be hired for the pregnancy period.

One of the challenges for expectant mothers was finding suitable outfits that allowed women to express their personal style throughout their pregnancy, Mrs Mangai said.

"What I want it to be is to give peace of mind to women who are engaging with it," Mrs Mangai said.

Spending money for clothing they would wear for a only few months could be costly.

Instead being able to select items from a range of choices to wear month by month enabled women to feel positive and stylish during their pregnancy.

Mrs Mangai said often it was a challenge to find clothing that was suitable for office wear.

She conducted a survey with pregnant women to find out what they wanted, some saying they felt like they had lost their sense of style because maternity options were limited.

Women could choose a "capsule wardrobe" of six to 10 garments that all worked together and could be arranged in a variety of ways.

They could mix and match, selecting items including jackets, skirts and pants, putting together a look that suited.

When they no longer needed the clothes a box would be sent and they could return them.

"You don’t even need to dry-clean them."

Customers could swap out items, sending back a garment and getting a replacement, Mrs Mangai said.

"Because women change size so much during pregnancy, the idea would be that if they need a bigger size of something, or the season changes, they can send something back and swap it for a different item."

There would also be an option to buy items to keep.

She would also be creating her own range of clothing for the site, and was hoping to use local resources where possible, using the fashion ecosystem that existed in Dunedin, Mrs Mangai said.

She planned to continue testing her concept throughout the year, and expected to launch the platform early next year.

"It is an exciting process."

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