This Cool-Girl Brand Wants To Change What The "Millennial Mom" Looks Like

Photo: Courtesy of Reformation.
Breast feeding is, somewhat unbelievably, a contentious topic that reliably riles people up, whether someone's doing it in public, posting images of it on social media, seeing it on the newsstand, or not doing it at all. Earlier this week, Reformation posted the above photo on Instagram of model Abby Brothers wearing the brand's Addilyn wrap dress while breast feeding her adorable, sunglasses-donning baby.

The shot was captioned, "Cool dress, mom. Engineered for easy access. #AddilynDress #MothersDay." And it got a LOT of feedback on social media — mostly positive, though there were some naysaying sentiments, too. (Comments ranged from "Thank you for posting a breastfeeding positive ad! It is so beautiful!" to "disgusting.") We spoke with the brand’s founder, Yael Aflalo, to find out more.

“Internally, we were calling it ‘millennial Mother’s Day,’ and wanted to do a photoshoot celebrating what motherhood means today,” she said, since Aflalo's friends and lots of Reformation customers are starting to become mothers. (The designer is expecting, too: Her first child is due “any minute now," she said.) “We wanted to redefine the way motherhood is presented by a fashion brand."

The photo in question wasn’t deliberately plotted: “Before the shoot, there was no conversation, like, ‘Be sure to get a breast-feeding shot!’ — I wasn’t even on the shoot. I have no idea how they decided to shoot that, but knowing Abby, it was probably her idea. I can’t imagine the male photographer saying, ‘You know what? We should really get some shots of you breast feeding,” Aflalo said. “It was a very natural moment we captured, and it makes motherhood look very fashionable and cool.”

And no, this isn’t a teaser for a Reformation collection specifically designed for nursing. “Wrap dresses are really forgiving and work on lots of different body types; they’re just all-around really functional items of clothing,” she said. However, Aflalo’s forthcoming new-mom status might mean more breast-feeding-friendly styles, as she tends to organically design items that she’s into wearing at the time into Reformation’s collections. But a separate spate of mom offerings isn't currently in the works. “I don’t think we specifically need to make clothes [for breast-feeding],” she said. “We make so much stuff — we’re producing 20 new items a week — and even nine months pregnant, I’m still finding stuff I can wear.”
Photo: Courtesy of Reformation.

Even though that photo wasn’t a planned “moment,” Aflalo knew sharing it on social media would garner a response. “I knew it was going to start something, though I wasn’t exactly sure what,” Aflalo said, noting that she showed the shot in question “to everybody” for the past week to gauge how people might react. “Social media audiences can be a little bit negative, and I have a hard time predicting that,” she said. “I was very happy with how positive the response was.”

So why is it that this act — an incredible and natural act, at that — is still so polarizing? “Breasts are a very sexualized part of a woman’s body, and breast feeding is not sexual; it’s about nurturing a baby,” Aflalo said. “Also, people have a very serious, emotional response to motherhood — very personal, very strong feelings.”

“It’s about shifting identities,” Aflalo said of why she wanted to address, as a designer, the concept of millennials becoming moms. “How does motherhood change your relationship with the clothes you buy? I want to be the same person, and a great mom, but I don’t want to ‘look’ like a mom, whatever that means.” She (half-)jokes with her team about how she will probably be breast feeding in meetings. There’s a lot to consider when becoming a mom — going well beyond one's wardrobe — but for this designer, clothing is certainly a large part of the equation. “I wonder what my body will be like,” she said. “I wonder what clothing I’ll need, and I don’t know exactly — but I’ll soon find out.”

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