A Gloucestershire swimwear designer is crafting a special mastectomy swimwear line supported by the Gloucestershire NHS Foundation Trust in light of Breast Cancer Awareness Month — recognising that every woman has the right to feel ‘sexy’ in swimwear, irrespective of physical differences.
Driven by the lack of stylish swimwear options available to those who have been through the procedure, Natasha Griggs, Founder of Topaz Swimwear based in Cheltenham, has created a bespoke line that will emulate the elegance of its wider offering and use the same luxurious fabrics.
Currently in the research stage with Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust as the supporting partner, Topaz Swimwear will now begin working with the Gloucester Cancer Institute and the Hospital Charity — with the initial designs expected following market research via clinical patients and post patient feedback.
Taking into account feedback from its customers, Topaz Swimwear will be looking to incorporate features such as sewn-in breast pockets for waterproof prosthesis, clickable and attachable pockets, moulded foam underbusts, elastic underbusts with silicone support details, as well as altered features like higher necklines and armholes to help women feel more confident and offer more support where she needs it.
Natasha said: “The number of mastectomies is not reflected in the post-surgery swimwear options women encounter. One of the major concerns for women after breast surgery is a perceived loss of femininity, which is at the forefront of their post-surgery psychological needs. These same concealment issues influence the clothing women buy and I believe women post-mastectomy should be empowered to make choices that enhance the image they have.”
Natasha added: “The first problem is that the usual options are not designed with the needs of these women in mind. Standard swimsuits are too low cut under the arms or neckline, leaving scars and prosthetics exposed. They also sag when wet, which can lead to uneven symmetry that reveals more than intended. But there’s another problem. Many women are reluctant to go on much-needed holidays or trips to the spa or pool because of their anxiety over how they will look in their swimsuit — which simply should not be the case.”
Topaz Swimwear is a new, luxury swimwear brand. The company is growing its reputation across the UK and overseas and has done so with the support of The Growth Hub.
Since working with The Growth Hub, Topaz has received business advice and secured vital funding which has helped propel the business, whilst also being introduced to the NHS through a competition that initially sparked interest in this collaboration. Its invaluable industry network has also helped steer Topaz through a turbulent business climate following the hardships of the pandemic.
Paul Spenley, Business Guide, from The Growth Hub, said: “Topaz Swimwear has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years and working with Natasha and her admirable desire to succeed in her field has been a pleasure. We were able to help her secure funding during the early stages of her business model and since then the reach of her products has grown exponentially. This new mastectomy swimwear line is a testament to Natasha’s character and the brand’s underlying ethos that fashion should be accessible to all. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there has never been a more fitting time to develop a product like this.”
Every October, people all over the world show their support for those affected by breast cancer. The charity, Breast Cancer Now, created National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to help educate women on how to spot the early signs of breast cancer, whilst also offering a supportive network for those affected by it.
Natasha added: “The Growth Hub has been a reliable port of call throughout my business journey and if it wasn’t for them, partnerships like this one would not have been possible. They have helped us steer through the crazy time that was the pandemic and I couldn’t recommend their services more to any budding Gloucestershire business owners.”