Male designer finds niche — maternity clothes
Expectant moms love Izzy Vahaba.
He’s the owner of Izzy Maternity, a boutique where he specializes in making women look stylish and feel sexy, while their bellies are growing and feet are swelling.
When Maria Link of Tucker, who is eight months along, shopped during her lunch hour recently, she was surprised to have a man showing her maternity fashions.
“Do you design all these clothes?” she asks Vahaba.
He nods and says most of the clothes are his creations.
“But why maternity?” Link asks.
It’s a question Vahaba, an animated man with trendy, silver-framed glasses and styled hair, is used to hearing.
Vahaba explains that the fashion bug came naturally to him. His earliest memory is from age 3 when he would pin the hems of wedding dresses his mom made. He laughs when he remembers how his mom worried when he began collecting the European fashion magazine “Burda” and dressing “funky.”
Vahaba attended college in Israel, where he’s from, and later graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. He worked in men’s fashion for years until his wife became pregnant with their first child.
“That’s when it all began,” Vahaba says. “My wife was hard to fit, and the maternity clothes weren’t so great, so I made all her clothes. People liked them, and commented on them, and I realized that this was my niche.”
Izzy Maternity opened in Perimeter Mall in 1986, where it stayed for 11 years, then moved to North Point Mall for 10 years. It relocated four months ago to a strip shopping center off of North Point Parkway.
“I love my business,” Vahaba says. “At night I dream about it, and I’m constantly sketching new ideas. I never ask the customers their size, color preferences — I just know. Pregnant women just glow.”
Vahaba says business is good: Another store may be opening inside the perimeter, and his clientele keeps growing —in more ways than one.
“Customers love how I dress them during their pregnancies, so much so that many have hired me to do personal shopping for them afterward,” he says. “I’m flattered that people trust me to make them feel good and look pretty, and I love it when they show me their products after the pregnancies.”
“Products” meaning babies, of course.
When Link comes out of the dressing room with a black skirt and black-and-white top that ties above her belly, Vahaba says he loves the look and that she looks sexy.
“Who’s sexy?” she laughs. “That’s a word I haven’t heard in months. Most of the clothes I find just say: ‘You’re pregnant. Stay home.’ “
But this outfit is different.
“Oh, this is gorgeous,” she says as she puts her hand on her belly and turns to see the back. “It is really hard to find beautiful maternity clothes.”
Vahaba smiles as he watches Link survey her reflection in the mirror.
“Your bust looks great,” he says. “Sexy!”