Japanese Weekend: Maternity Designer Highlight

Amy Keyishian

Japanese Weekend, $68
Banner weekend: On my local Yahoo parents' list, I heard Japanese Weekend was having a sample sale. This is big news. They're well-known in the Bay Area for making and selling wearable, comfortable clothes that last long past their expected maternity lifespan--meaning they're both well-made, as opposed to the sorta disposable options offered as afterthoughts by Gap and Old Navy, and able to accommodate a variety of shapes, including the variety we go through during and after gestation. I have pals whose kids are in kindergarten, still wearing their JW tops. I had to have me some.

Of course, as with any boutique product, prices can be challenging. Price tags run to $68 for a top, $70-$100 for a dress, and $59 for the elusive perfect nursing pajamas. You have to keep telling yourself: I'll wear it forever. I can shop the sales. I can find them at Overstock. (Cuz you often can.)





JW shirts
Just some of my awesome haul! 
Of course, I'm the luckiest girl in the word, so I spent my Saturday morning shivering in a warehouse, pulling shirts and dresses over my tanktop and piling amazing finds on my ever-more-tired arms.It was a no-frills experience -- no mirrors, even! -- but I came away with a garbage bag stuffed with materni-nursing tops in Japanese Weekend's signature style: natural fibers, flattering cuts, and beautiful prints. Though I scored these pieces at bargain-basement prices, they're the ones I would have splurged on.

It got me wondering about this maternity designer, and later in the day I buttonholed Hope, the store's manager, to find out more about this label and its unique style. Here's what I found out:

  • In the 1970s, Barbie White was a dancer, choreographer. and fashion designer. She made great outfits for dancers to wear, and they found their way to a new market: Pregnant women who loved the stretchy fit and great designs, and hated the unflattering, frumpy maternity wear of the day. She was inspired to start a maternity line, and studied the pregnant body to create fashions that were comfortable and fashionable. What a concept! In 1982, she launched her line, and the rest is pregnant-fashion history.
  • JW has a couple of exclusive, patented designs, including OK Special Waistband, built into all our jeans, which lifts and supports both the belly and the back to give the bump room to grow.
  • All of Japanese Weekend's clothes are made in their warehouse in the SoMa neighborhood of San Francisco. The business is owned, and predominantly run, by women. In fact, the only men in the company are … the sewers (seamsters?).
  • Store workers like Hope take copious notes based on what customers have to say about the clothes they buy. There's also a customer feedback link on the website. Customer comments go right back to the designers and pattern makers, so the clothes become more and more fine-tuned to be both comfy and fashiony.

Japanese Weekend clothes are available at their website, as well as Nordstrom, Diapers.com, Amazon, Due Maternity, and Overstock, as well as other stores.

Who's your favorite splurge-worthy designer? What's the key wardrobe essential you're glad you spent on (or wish you could get)?

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