Katy Marks designs one-cup Uno bra for women to feel “confidently asymmetric”

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Architect Katy Marks of Citizens Design Bureau has created Uno, a one-cup bra for women who have undergone mastectomies, to empower and celebrate post-surgery bodies.

Breast cancer survivor Marks designed the Uno collection after her own single mastectomy when she found herself struggling to find bras that offered support to one breast without requiring prosthetics.

The Uno collection features a bra with one cup

“When you have a mastectomy, you come home and suddenly your whole underwear drawer is obsolete – which is pretty depressing,” said the architect, who is the founder of London-based office Citizens Design Bureau.

“I cut a lot of bras in half and started adding flat straps on the side, but then, as an architect, I felt compelled to start sketching,” she told Dezeen.

Architect Katy Marks also created one-cup swimwear for the collection

Made to order in small batches to eliminate unnecessary waste, the Uno collection features asymmetrical bras and swimwear in a variety of colours that were designed not to compromise comfort or appearance.

Each piece features a single contoured cup and strap for either left or right breasts, supported by a wide band of fabric that is flat on one side and wraps around the chest.

The bras’ thinner straps are adjustable while the bikini top can be tied into a decorative bow at the back.

The bikini tops fasten with a bow at the back

When designing the collection, Marks explained that one of the main challenges was preventing the asymmetry from causing the bra to twist or sag on the body while avoiding tight elastic on the band that could irritate scar tissue and tender skin following radiotherapy.

Marks and her team trialled prototypes on a range of women “of different shapes and sizes” – many of whom are in active treatment – to find the best solution.

“The fact that there are no asymmetric mannequins was also an obstacle,” acknowledged the architect.

Marks created the collection for women who have had breast removal surgery

The underwear is made from a combination of stretch satin and Lenzing modal – a material created from sawdust as a by-product of the European timber industry.

For the swimwear, the team chose Econyl, which is a fabric made of reconstituted ocean plastics.

“I was determined that Uno should not become part of a fast fashion, disposable, high-waste culture that is really destructive,” said Marks.

“Lenzing modal is also sumptuously soft on the skin,” she added.

The team used a material made from recycled ocean plastics for the swimwear

Accessibility and affordability were also important priorities for Marks, who plans to publish open-source, simplified versions of some of the garment patterns.

“There is a growing movement of women wanting [asymmetrical bras] and doing it themselves in frustration at not being able to find anything,” said the architect.

Marks created the collection to empower women who have had mastectomies

While Marks highlighted that women with cancer have countless different experiences and might understandably choose to undergo post-surgery breast reconstruction, 69 per cent of women who have mastectomies decide to remain flat after breast removal and deserve appropriate underwear, according to the architect.

“After my surgery, I felt real anxiety and hated that I felt compelled to wear these prosthetics, which felt to me like a kind of cartoonish costume I had to put on in order to feel like a real woman,” she said.

“I have two young sons, and I felt really strongly that I didn’t want them to see me feeling inhibited by my body and my scars. I wanted to show my kids that it’s okay to look a bit different and that it doesn’t change who I am.”


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Marks designed the Uno logo with a hyphen in front of the letter U, which is crowned with an illustrative dot to symbolise a breast.

“I saw the graphic opportunities of using the U and a hyphen in front of the word, to suggest a breast and a scar as a motif,” she explained.

“So, it was a little bit of graphic fun, with a logo that I’ve painted many times, again playfully reflecting all the different shapes and sizes of breasts.”

The collection will be available to pre-order from 1 December

“Uno was about being confidently asymmetric, designing something that looks like a really beautiful thing to wear in its own right – which just happens to be asymmetric and have only one cup,” reflected Marks.

“It is up to women themselves to decide what makes them feel feminine or not – nobody else. If you have confidence in who you are, you can find a way for it to shine through.”

“Of course, it’s easy to say and it took me a while to get there – but I stared at myself in the mirror and really felt that I had to learn to like myself,” continued the architect.

“My experience is that many people don’t even notice, but when they do, they accept it, and why shouldn’t they? Why should we feel ashamed or try to hide our bodies after we have had cancer, as though the only way to be feminine is to be a ‘normal woman’?

“We need to shift into the 21st century and recognise that the diversity of our bodies is the norm. The more we see it, the more we can be it.”

Designer Lisa Marks previously made Algorithmic Lace, a bra for people who have had mastectomies, which features no underwire and can create the illusion of symmetry and curves. Sportswear brand Adidas recently collaborated with designer Stella McCartney to create a sports bra that allows its wearers to breastfeed more easily.

The photography is by Tara Darby.

The post Katy Marks designs one-cup Uno bra for women to feel “confidently asymmetric” appeared first on Dezeen.

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