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Keeping it in the family

Baukjen, the little sister of chic maternity line Isabella Oliver, has grown up, and is stepping out of its sibling's long shadow, says Rebecca Gonsalves

The expansion of designer Baukjen de Swaan Arons' empire runs parallel to that of her own family. In 2002, while pregnant with her first child, de Swaan Arons struggled to find anything chic, flattering and comfortable to wear. A year later, and with an 11-month-old son, she and husband Geoff launched maternity line Isabella Oliver from their own home.

Over the past decade the brand has expanded internationally, with the maternity wear loved by some of the biggest names in Hollywood: Gwen Stefani, Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba to name but three alpha mothers.

Of course maternity-wear customers have a relatively short period of interest and in 2009, by which time de Swaan Arons was a mother of three, Isabella Oliver expanded to include non-materity womenswear. This season, de Swaan Arons has relaunched womenswear under the moniker Baukjen. She felt "it needed its own identity, with plenty of space to live and breathe. It had grown so much faster than we'd ever expected".

For autumn/winter, customers will find every wardrobe solution catered to in typically classic style. With military coats, denim shirtwaisters and Breton stripe jersey dresses alongside leather skirts, modern tailoring and glitzy evening dresses.

"We design clothes we want to work in every aspect of our daily lives," says de Swaan Arons. "We take inspiration from real life: our customer is time poor and style savvy, aware of the trends but not led by them. She is all about creating a capsule wardrobe and investing in key pieces that will last for years."

As a busy working mother and internet entrepreneur, de Swaan Arons understands what that target demographic needs and how to provide it such as an e-stylist service, in which customers can receive trend advice via a 20-minute webcam chat.