The architect who designed lingerie post-mastectomy for the body

Mar 12, 2024 | News

Nearly 15,000 UK women have a mastectomy each year, but the underwear they can choose from is designed almost exclusively to hide the loss of breast tissue. A bra designed by a breast cancer survivor is a stylish alternative

“I want clothing that I can fit with my body, and if nobody else is going make it, I will,” says award-winning architect and now lingerie design Katy Marks.

Marks is one of 14,850 women in the United States who undergo mastectomy each year. She is also among the two-thirds who opt not to undergo reconstruction.

The Liverpool-born cancer survivor has now turned her architectural eye towards a very different engineering problem by designing a one-cup bra for asymmetric, post-surgery bodies.

“Uno” was the result. Marks plans to make the patterns available for free download so that women around the world can benefit from her revolutionary design, no matter what their budget.

Marks recalls crying in the changing room while struggling with the reality that she only had one breast.

“I realized that many women were hiding, wearing baggy t-shirts and uncomfortable prosthetics. They felt like they had to look ‘normal.'”

I realised that many women hide – they feel like they have to look ‘normal’ to be considered a woman.

Marks found that most post-op underwear was either unsupportive or had features that irritated the scar tissue. She was also struck by the fact that most post-op lingerie was unsupportive or had features that irritated scar tissue.

She reframed lingerie design to be ‘architecture for your body’ and set out to create affordable, accessible bras that celebrate asymmetry. She argued that the loss of a breast shouldn’t equate with the loss of feminine identity. The ethos was extended to a line of beachwear, including one-cup bikinis that are made from recycled ocean waste.

Images: Tara Darby

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