VIE MATERNITY BOUTIQUE
1038 Hamilton St., Vancouver
Maternity fashion is no longer the oxymoron it used to be.
Thanks to Hollywood's baby boom, maternity wear has shed its dowdy, shapeless image. And now, Vancouver moms-to-be can look every bit as chic as celebrity yummy mummies Angelina Jolie, Katie Holmes and Heidi Klum.
Vie Maternity Boutique, which opened in Yaletown in May, carries a variety of designer maternity clothes from New York, Los Angeles and around the globe, including Habitual jeans, the brand worn by Hollywood's most famous moms. Many of the labels were previously unavailable in the city.
Like many entrepreneurial mothers, shop owner Melissa Lynne came up with the idea for her business when she discovered an untapped market.
While pregnant with her now 18-month-old son, Hiro, Lynne, a former model, struggled to find outfits that fit her changing body and still suited her personal style. "A lot of the stores that I did visit were very outdated, or the clothes were made for the masses," she says. "Unfortunately, I had to resort to oversized clothing so that it would cover my expanding belly. But it didn't look very flattering."
After Hiro was born, Lynne travelled to Los Angeles and New York in search of high-quality, fashionable maternity wear. "There were a lot of great new clothing lines coming out that hadn't reached Vancouver, or Canada at all, really," she says, noting that stores specializing in modern, high-end maternity wear have only begun cropping up in Montreal and Toronto in recent years.
Lynne's tony boutique, nestled among Yaletown's trendy shops and restaurants, can be deceiving.
The racks of breezy dresses by New York maternity designer Liz Lange and Vancouver brand Julou offer no hint they are made for expectant mothers. Nor do the shelves of form-fitting ribbed tank tops and wide selection of jeans.
Most of the shirts and dresses at Vie are cut a little longer in the front to accommodate growing bellies, or are made of soft, stretchy material, but are otherwise unrecognizable as maternity wear. Trousers are either cut lower at the hips or have cleverly concealed elastic waistbands.
While much of the store is devoted to comfortable, casual clothing, many of Vie's blouses and trousers are suitable for the office.
Lynne plans to add maternity business suits to Vie's fall selection, as well as new, well-tailored styles from Italy, so that pregnant professional women can look polished at work.
In the fitting booths, customers can strap on stuffed baby bumps to see how an outfit will look as they go through different stages of pregnancy.
Most items, however, can be worn long after the nine months are over. In fact, women don't have to be expecting at all to wear the new maternity fashions.
Lynne says non-pregnant shoppers often wander into Vie and don't realize they're in a maternity store until they spot the bulbous bellies of the shop's mannequins.
"I confuse a lot of non-pregnant people," she says, adding that the confusion is a good thing. "It's a misconception that people have about maternity, that they have to be pregnant to wear it, or it's going to make them look pregnant. That's not the case. A lot of maternity wear now is just nice clothing."