Maternity wear of today still has just one purpose: to be worn only when pregnant. Janina Waschkowski, a mother of two and the founder of Nove, redefines this idea by designing garments that evolve with the female body so they can effortlessly stand the test of time.︎︎︎ELISA STROBOER / DESIGN
Changing bodiesPregnancy changes a lot in a woman’s life, including her wardrobe. As the female body grows, the search for finding the perfect maternity wardrobe begins. During both her pregnancies, Janina Waschkowski couldn’t find maternity wear that was in line with her style while being sustainable at the same time. This is when Nove was born. Nove is a Berlin-based sustainable womenswear label that designs garments that evolve with the female body. These garments can thus be worn before, during, and after pregnancy. Janina wanted to create versatile designs that would allow the body to grow, as the clothing adapts to the stage in which the body is in. This meant designing with new techniques to ensure that the pieces fit the body perfectly at any time. Therefore, Nove’s garments make use of carefully placed buttons and straps in order to achieve this outcome. This concept has given maternity wear a new definition, as the brand aspires to extend the longevity of women’s wardrobes.
Nove’s Samka Wrap Trousers
A wasteful concept
My conversation with Janina started by talking about what the problem is with current maternity wear according to her. She began explaining how there is no need from a production perspective to create high-quality garments, as most women only wear maternity wear for a couple of months. “Second, the design is just ugly in my opinion.” We laughed. “Most of the designs are really feminine, going into the leisure direction, lots of florals and dresses, not meeting the needs of modern women.” Nove is moving away from this image by creating timeless, elegant pieces that are versatile yet comfortable at the same time, as Janina believes that a woman should not have to compromise on style for comfort. She continues by addressing the struggle that comes with looking for maternity wear. “Women have so much to think about when they are pregnant. Maternity wear should not have to be one of them.”
Garments for lifeWhat was remarkable for me when diving into the brand a bit further was how its identity is not just revolving around maternity wear. I asked Janina if this is a conscious decision that she has made; “The feedback that I got from customers was that it was such a nice concept but not only for pregnancy. The body is changing during other periods in your life as well. It’s really the clothing that needs to adapt to the body and not the other way around.” This also relates to the brand’s efforts of being sustainable. Nove emphasizes this concept by extending the longevity of their designs, as they adapt to the body at every stage of life.
Janina explains that it supports the idea of a bigger picture; “If you buy stuff that is only going to last you weeks or months why should you care about it? If you have a piece that costs more money because it’s ethically and sustainably made, you care about it, you won’t forget it in a bar, you won’t wash it too hot: you cherish it.”
Conscious thinkingThe mentality that we care for our garments seems to be lost in today’s disposable society, where the fast-fashion system is still winning from sustainable businesses. With its unique concept, Nove is pushing for change and innovation within the fashion industry. Asking whether or not it was a must for Janina to start a sustainable brand, she was loud and clear in her answer. “It was not a question for me, am I going to start a sustainable company? I think nowadays a brand should see sustainability as a norm. Otherwise, how am I going to explain this to my kids when they are older?”
This need for the brand to be sustainable flows from her personal life, as this topic is dear to Janina’s heart. When asked to define what sustainability means to her, Janina tells that it’s about having the environmental and social impact in mind in every decision that she takes. It would be a big step forward for the fashion industry if they would also take this into consideration, Janina says. “If we go back to the cotton field and think about all the steps that are in-between this cotton field and a webshop and really consider the impact of every step in the supply chain, that would already be a huge move forward.”
Janina informed me about an initiative in Germany called ‘Fair by Law’ which fights for regulations in the fashion industry. If politics would have a better eye on this industry she believes that companies would definitely have to step up their game concerning sustainability.
“It’s really the clothing that needs to adapt to the body, not the other way around.”
Come as you are
We ended our conversation by coming back to Nove again. As a brand in today’s society, it is important to have something to say to your consumers. I asked Janina what it is that she wants Nove to be for women; “I want Nove to provide a single-stop, best friend where women can come as they are. I think that the brand is not only reconsidering maternity wear but also an image of women. With Nove, I try to promote an idea of modern motherhood which is non-judgmental and shows a diverse picture of how modern parenthood can look like. It’s moving away from the ideal picture of what a mother should be.” Having young kids herself, Janina experiences the challenges that motherhood brings with it. She too struggles with finding a balance between running a company and being a mom. That is why Janina is so passionate about creating a space where women can just be themselves and lift each other up through encouragement, as she desires such space herself.
Besides offering sustainable and long-lasting garments, Nove thus wants to do more for its community. Being a relatively small start-up, the brand understands the desires of its consumers, as the founder relates to them on a personal level. Janina understands what it means, and what it takes, to be a woman, a wife, a mother, an entrepreneur, and a friend. This shows in how Nove has come alive. She ends our interview by addressing what fashion should mean for her customers; “Obviously pregnancy is an emotional time, be it super positive or rather challenging, but the clothes that are surrounding you are kind of like support. They can make you feel warm, comfortable, safe, and confident.” Janina inspired me to look at my own wardrobe from this perspective, considering how my garments add value to my life and spark different emotions. It is clear to me that Nove’s one-of-a-kind concept urges consumers to reconsider the emotional durability of our wardrobe; a lesson in sustainability that has not been taught that much within this industry.
To learn more about Nove, please visit their website www.nove.store or follow them on Instagram @novethelabel