Meet the woman behind Isabella Oliver
In today’s fast-fashion, fast-everything world, it’s hard to find a brand with a genuine story behind it. In that sense, Isabella Oliver is an anomaly. When Dutch-born Baukjen De Swaan Arons became pregnant with her first child, her confidence took quite a hit. Instead of embracing her natural love of clothes and celebrating her new curves, she struggled to find anything that simply made her feel good. Pregnant women seemed to be forgotten by retail magnates and designers alike. Inspired to change the status quo – for her and others – she found a London studio space and launched Isabella Oliver: a brand that prides itself on empowering pregnant women to dress with confidence. Here’s the full story…
What’s the Isabella Oliver design ethos?
We try and encapsulate trend, comfort and quality. We design pieces that grow with a woman’s bump, so one size will fit right through pregnancy – and often beyond. By using clever design techniques like wrapping, ruching and draping, our designers focus on creating exceptional fits. Details like soft waistbands, inside shelf-bras add an extra layer of comfort and we only use premium pregnancy-friendly fabrics that feel soft on the skin. I found I washed my maternity clothes far more (as I had them on a rotate schedule) and so the quality has always been very important. A piece shouldn’t lose its colour or shape – fabric quality is queen in our world.
What inspired you to launch the label?
It all started 14 years ago when I was pregnant with my first child, Oliver, and I just couldn’t find anything nice to wear. I simply wanted to wear the kind of clothes I’d choose to wear pre-pregnancy, but back then the words ‘maternity’ and ‘stylish’ didn’t exist in harmony. I felt that designing maternity clothes that are both comfortable and chic should be possible, so that’s where Isabella Oliver was born. When you’re pregnant it’s so important to feel confident in what you wear, because your body/lifestyle/everything is changing. Well-fitting clothes make a big difference. I wanted clothes made me feel like ‘me’ and gave me the confidence to feel happily pregnant. That’s what we set out to do for others, with every collection we create.
Tell us about the team behind the collections
We design our maternity collections in-house which means we work really closely together and are constantly bouncing ideas off each other. We also have an in-house sample room where the patterns are cut and samples are made and tried on for fit. It means we’re really close to the pieces to get the fit and quality exactly right. Our customer services team sits close by and constantly feeds comments back from the customers. This means we have a full 360 view on what pregnant women are loving and where we can improve.
What’s been your proudest moment since launching Isabella Oliver?
Every time I meet a woman who has worn Isabella Oliver during her pregnancies and who says the clothes made her feel confident and stylish. It never ceases to give me a burst of happiness. To date, we’ve dressed close to a million women around the world, that’s something we’re very proud of.
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