In late 2012 when the Clarence House announced that Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were expecting their first child, the international media's eyes were glued to maternity style of the Duchess. Celebs are now more watchful of how they carry themselves during the special nine months. In India, former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's wardrobe was closely followed and scrutinised by fashion police as soon as her family confirmed that the couple was soon expecting a visit from the stork. International celebs like Kim Kardashian, Drew Barrymore, Rachel Bilson, Mila Kunis and many others have earned bouquets and brickbats for their maternity wardrobe. These celebs have inspired the regular would-be-mamas too to flaunt the baby bump in style. The maternity apparel market is thus predicted to reach US$ 12.7 billion by 2020.

The global scene

"Although general clothing retailers have suffered from weak consumer sentiment and subdued discretionary spending, the industry has benefited from strong demand for maternity wear from fashion-conscious consumers," said industry analyst for IBISWorld Lauren Magner.

The maternity apparel market has an awful impact on sales with dwindling global economy and lack of interest among expectant mothers to invest in maternity wear. However, in the five years to 2019, the industry is likely to rebound steadily.

In countries like Russia, where a law offering subsidies to families with two or more children was introduced in 2007, have witnessed baby boom. With global economic already on a recovery path, the maternity apparel sales will definitely soar high.

In emerging markets like India, Philippines, Venezuela and South Africa, birth rates are approximately at over 20 births per 1000 people, but this is yet to translate into huge sales of maternity wear. Another major global player China is also working on controlling its population; strict one child policy in China has affected the maternity apparel market.

Among the developed nations, the United States continues to remain the chief market for maternity wear. The average number of births in the United States of America stands at some four million a year, making it a profitable market for maternity wear. The scenario in other developed nations is not the same. Countries like Japan, Germany, South Korea and Italy have registered slow birth rate in the past decade. The shrinking customer base in these countries is a cause of concern for maternity apparel retailers.

Modern way of life leads sales

According to industry analysis by Ibisworld, the maternity wear retail sector is already in prime phase of life cycle. As per Ibisworld analysis, the industry's value added (IVA) which is calculated as its contribution to the economy, is predicted to develop at an average annual rate of 3.7 per cent from 2009 to 2019.

Though unlike other garments, maternity wear has short life span for mother-to-be, still there are many factors that make pregnant ladies invest in chic maternity styles. One of the notable factors is that pregnancy, which was once considered a hush-hush matter following social stigma in many countries has become a period of celebration and pampering oneself. The modern day moms refuse to wear frumpy clothes that lack glamour and comfort.