Functional Jackets & Breast Cancer

It is almost the end of first semester thesis work, yet I am only beginning to understand the difficulties of women who had undergone a mastectomy due to breast cancer. Thanks to organizations like SHARE, I was able to contact and speak with several breast cancer survivors like Leslie and Judy. They kindly told me detailed stories and list after list of garments that did not accommodate to their body. From blouses sliding onto one side of the chest, to overly large ponchos, I listened to the women's frustrations regarding the fashionable clothes that they once cherished. After several interviews, it was obvious there was an unmet need in the fashion and medical industry. 

After working with Open Style Lab for nearly a year, I saw many clients face physical challenges when wearing outerwear. Some clients took anywhere from 15-30 minutes to put on a jacket. (That's 180 hours of your life wasted on "trying" to wear a jacket). So, my thesis objective is to rethink traditional pattern making techniques to address the challenges of disabilities in the upper body. As an exemplar, the garment is an all-purpose blazer. My design addresses appropriate closures, fit, material use, and represent the client’s desired fashion tastes. Using “time” taken to put on the jacket as the central constraint, the disabled wearer should be able to put on a jacket in the same amount of time it would take an abled body wearer to put on a conventional blazer. I am focusing on jackets because it's a necessary garment for anyone residing in cold weather environments.

This necessity shouldn't be denied because of post-surgery conditions such as, women who had undergone breast cancer surgery. Rather, these challenges should be seen as an opportunity. The opportunity to create, research, and collaborate at an intersection where fashion meets technology to serve a need. I can only hope my thesis can address a small solution and get the general public to rethink about how we can design garments that support women in the healing process.