Nike's New Maternity Line Is Changing the Game

Nike (M) launches this fall.

Carmen Zolman, Nike’s senior design director of apparel innovation greeted her ZOOM audience last month in the company of two fully dressed mannequins—both with noticeable baby bumps. “What we're focused on here today is one of the most transformative stages of a woman's life: motherhood,” said Zolman. Nike’s new line of maternity wear, Nike (M), was the brainchild of Nike’s own female designers and innovators, developed to meet the specific athletic needs of expecting moms.

“We’ve been working on this project for the better part of three years, but it was much more important to get it right than it was to rush it to the marketplace,” Zolman explained.

Over the past several years, Zolman and her team have meticulously concepted, researched, and designed a four-piece capsule collection that would adapt to a woman’s changing body before, during, and after pregnancy. The collection includes a sports bra that allows for easy pumping and nursing, a supportive legging, a tank top, and a fleece cover-up with a split hem allowing room for growing bellies.

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Pro golfer and new mom Michelle Wie West models Nike’s new nursing sports bra.

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Former track star Perri (Shakes-Drayton) Edwards worked out in the new Nike M line before giving birth in late August.

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“Nike (M) is a very personal project for me, not only as a mom, but as someone who is so close to our women’s innovation agenda,” Zolman said. The 2019 Victory Swim Collection, a line of mix-and-match modest tunics, swim leggings, and hijabs, as well as a size-inclusive collection that also came out last year, are other recent examples of the athletics giant's commitment to diversifying female sportswear.

Nike (M) was developed to celebrate the female form, not to hide it, disguise it, or ignore it.

While other activewear companies have come under fire for a “pink it and shrink it” approach to women's apparel and gear, Zolman explained that hacking regular sportswear for pregnancy simply doesn’t work. Ten years ago, she grappled with her own insecurities in the locker room. As an active mom-to-be, she found that maternity gear didn’t quite fit her changing body, or meet the performance requirements of her dynamic lifestyle. “Nike (M) was developed to celebrate the female form, not to hide it, disguise it, or ignore it,” she said.

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Ona Carbonell, Olympic medal–winning synchronized swimmer, shows off the new collection.

(Image credit: Archives)

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Musician Marz Lovejoy with her newborn son and 2-year-old daughter.

(Image credit: Archives)

While the Nike family includes a long list of powerhouse female teams and elite athletes (including Serena Williams, who won the Grand Slam singles title at the Australian Open eight weeks into her first trimester), Nike (M) hopes to address a wide range of women’s fitness levels—from crushing the competition in professional leagues to walks around the neighborhood.

To accomplish that, the team enlisted the help of Nike’s sports science research lab, analyzing more than 150,000 female body scans globally, and conducting studies with 30 pregnant and postpartum athletes. They tested 70 materials for stretch, recovery, and sweat-wicking abilities before narrowing it down to the final collection—one that Zolman describes as soft to the touch and intuitive to a woman’s body. Nike’s latest performance technology, a self-evaporating fabric, will help negate moisture visibility during the nursing phase.

Sometimes it's about getting people to the starting line.

“Pregnancy is not just a nine month time 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 pre- , pregnant and postpartum needs. Nike wants to be there for all stages of a woman's sport life, including pregnancy and motherhood," Zolman said. "It's not always about shattering world records and winning tournaments. Sometimes it's about getting more people to the starting line."

Nike (M) is available for purchase on September 17th. Don't forget to scoop up a Nike promo code before you hit checkout.


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Sara Holzman
Style Director

Sara Holzman is the Style Director for Marie Claire, where she's worked alongside the publication for eight years in various roles, ensuring the brand's fashion content continues to inform, inspire, and shape the conversation about fashion's ever-evolving landscape. With a degree from the Missouri School of Journalism, Sara is responsible for overseeing a diverse fashion content mix, from emerging and legacy designer profiles to reported features on the influence of social media on style and seasonal and micro trends across the world's fashion epicenters in New York, Milan, and Paris. Before joining Marie Claire, Sara held fashion roles at Conde Nast's Lucky Magazine and Self Magazine and was a style and travel contributor to Equinox's Furthermore website. Over her decade of experience in the fashion industry, Sara has helped guide each brand's style point of view, working alongside veteran photographers and stylists to bring editorial and celebrity photo shoots to fruition from start to finish. Sara currently lives in New York City. When she's not penning about fashion or travel, she’s at the farmer’s market, on a run, working to perfect her roasted chicken recipe, or spending time with her husband, dog, and cat. Follow her along at @sarajonewyork