The Brit in me that dictates that – no matter how many years I spend in Asia – I’m secretly never happier than on “Big Coat Day”. This is that glorious day each autumn when the mercury finally drops below sweltering and I can happily throw off the shackles of skirts, sandals and short sleeves for another year, and embrace my beloved thick tights, leather boots and the aforementioned “big coat”.
Of course, a key component to successful cooler weather dressing is a great pair of jeans, and pre-Hong Kong, like all good Londoners I lived in mine. These days my trusty denims are resurrected from their vacuum bags but once a year for their woefully short season in the (not too hot) sun, but of course this year there’s a little complicating factor coming between me and my trusty skinnies.
Yep, on “Big Coat Day 2014” it transpired that all the bump bands, long tops and hairband tricks in the world couldn’t disguise the simple fact that MY NORMAL JEANS DON’T FIT ANY MORE. Turns out that a four-month baby bump the second time around is a very different animal indeed to the first, and while my abs were never exactly honed from steel pre-kids, these days they are crafted from pure unadulterated jelly. Le sigh.
Happily for me and my (apparently not-so-little) hitchhiker, I was recently invited to take a look around Mayarya in Sheung Wan and check out their A/W 2014 collection. If you don’t already know Mayarya, I can definitely recommend popping into their rather gorgeous and elegant boutique (there’s also a Stanley Plaza branch for the Southside peeps) for a bit of retail therapy. Their concept is simple, yet smart; Mayarya stock “maternity friendly but not maternity-only” clothing, underwear, accessories and skincare, meaning that you can splash out on some nice bump-friendly clobber without feeling that you’re wasting pots of money on stuff you’ll only wear for a matter of weeks. Ingenious, but amazing how few maternity stores have cottoned on to this great idea
The whole Mayarya range is overseen by lovely founder Reika Shetty, who opened the boutique last year around the same time as the birth of her second baby (brave lady). Like me, Reika also despaired of the binary maternity wear option of “cutesy” vs. “frumpy” and so decided to take matters into her own hands. So you won’t find nauseating “bun in the oven” t-shirts on the racks at Mayarya; what you will find are row upon row of elegant, stylish and grown up pieces by international brands like Isabella Oliver, Madderson London and Hotmilk.
There are also a fair few brands exclusive to Mayarya, including Hong Kong’s own Predict, whose super-smart nursing scarf found its way into my shopping bag almost immediately – am remaining hopeful that baby two may be more tolerant of a cover than their older brother was. I also loved and very much coveted the not-just-nappy-bags by Timi & Leslie that are decidedly pastel bunny-free and are big enough to tote a laptop around later on.
There’s also loads of clever nursing wear that is a million miles away from your standard frump-tastic top, and will keep everything under cover while ensuring you can discreetly feed your baby without the need for gymnastics. As someone who breastfed a large, wriggly baby who angrily objected to being covered, I can honestly say that I never managed to find the perfect combination of practical and attractive when it came to nursing wear, and ended up in endless layers of stretch jersey – to the point where I now come out in hives whenever I see an H&M vest.
However the main attraction for me was the extensive range of maternity denim. I explained to Reika that I needed something that fit well (no hitching the damn things up every five minutes), was as comfortable as my yoga pants and would ideally last me from now until my baby is due in March. I thought this was a pretty big ask, but Reika barely blinked before rounding up eight different pairs for me to try, including some super-comfy ankle grazers by Maternal America and a pair of over-bump James Jeans that were as soft as my favourite pyjamas.
The winners were a pair of J Brand skinnies in a perfect mid-dark wash and a fit that hugged without squashing, and whose stretchy side panels will hopefully mean that I’ll get plenty of use post-baby without feeling weird about wearing huge stretchy maternity jeans. I have absolutely lived in these since I brought them home, and can confirm that they look as good with a pair heels as they do with a pair of Nikes.
As well as the lovely clothes and accessories, Mayarya have some pretty nifty services that have been well thought out by a busy mum for the benefit of other busy mums, like before or after-hours opening if you can’t get in at the usual times, a gift registry and even at-home style consultations if you really can’t bear the idea of moving from your apartment (yep, been there). So whether you’re looking for a whole new baby-friendly wardrobe, a special gift or even just a pair of denims that will make you feel like you again, pop into Mayarya for a browse. I challenge you not to emerge with a shopping bag or two.
Sheung Wan store opening hours: Monday – Saturday, 11am to 7.30pm; Sunday and Public Holidays, 11am to 6pm
G/F, 26 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong; 2968 0929
Stanley Plaza store opening hours: Daily, 11am to 7.30pm
Shop 104, 1/F, Stanley Plaza, Stanley, Hong Kong; 2968 0939
Mayarya was kind enough to gift me my dream pair of jeans – thank you again Reika!