India gets a unique line of mastectomy blouses, thanks to Shivan & Narresh
Last year, after extensive research, swimwear specialists Shivan & Narresh launched a first-of-its-kind line of mastectomy blouses. This segue from bikinis to blouses was fairly seamless, especially for these ‘bust experts’. All they needed was a push in the right direction.
“About two and half years ago, my dad was battling brain cancer. His chemotherapy changed him — he lost his hair, he lost weight. As his looks changed, he lost his self confidence,” says Narresh Kukreja. This made Kukreja realise that while fashion is frivolous, sometimes “frivolousness is important, too.”
His first instinct was to design a mastectomy swimwear range, but he put aside the idea (for now) because it is an “elitist concept.” Instead, Kukreja and Bhatia began researching bras and blouses for women who’ve undergone mastectomy. “We realised many women stuffed their bras with newspapers or rags. And those who could afford to buy bras abroad, found them too heavy.” So they decided to design blouses — something women could just slip into, like a T-shirt.
“The blouses cost around Rs. 15,000. But we’ve also launched a pocket-friendly version that costs Rs. 2,000,” says Kukreja. They come in basic colours, in sizes from XS to XL, and are customisable. While the premium range is on sale at all their stores, the designer duo has tied up with NGO Passages to distribute the cheaper ones among women in villages and towns. Anyone can add to the number being distributed for free by logging on to the designers’ website and donating blouses.
“The response has been great. Passages tells us that some women ask about the blouses more than chemo,” smiles Kukreja, adding that Mumbai-based NGO, Sahchari, recently donated 500 blouses to the Women’s Cancer Initiative, which will be distributed in March as a part of Tata Memorial Hospital’s cancer kits.
— Surya Praphulla Kumar