Last year, I featured five new lingerie designers from London College of Fashion in my June Lust List and was looking forward to following their careers. One of these designers, Ellen Goldie, had chosen to focus on creating luxury lingerie for women who had undergone a mastectomy. When we chatted at the end of her studies, Ellen explained how she selected the fabrics for softness and worked to create the bras without uncomfortable wiring or side seams.
Bra shopping is challenging, but shopping for lingerie post-surgery is even more complicated because your body has changed dramatically and your confidence has hit a new low. Ellen created her brand because of her Nan, Marlene – an incredibly glamorous, youthful and fun loving woman who was lucky enough to beat breast cancer a few years ago. When first diagnosed she was in her early 60s and, no matter how hard Marlene and her family looked online, all that seemed to be available were ugly basic bra styles labelled as ‘mastectomy underwear’. Ellen was dismayed.
How awful, after all she had been though and overcome, this was all that was on offer. There were tears and disappointment at every shop. Trying locate the infamous ‘mastectomy bra’ seemed to be a challenge all by itself. Embarrassed shop assistants discreetly directing us to a dark corner at the back of a department store, hidden away as though it were some sort of secret or taboo not to be shared or discussed.
After working at Victoria’s Secret, bra fitting and creating a positive experiences, I couldn’t help but ask why this same experience was not available for women post-surgery too. Breast cancer does not discriminate, affecting women of all ages, so why could they not have the same feelings of excitement and gain confidence in the same way? I decided to take matters into my own hands, use my experience in lingerie design to figure out a solution, not just for Marlene but for all women affected by breast cancer.
After talking to more and more women that had undergone a mastectomy or reconstructive surgery, Ellen realised that women of her own age were encountering the same issues. She came to the conclusion that all women want the same things from their bras, post-surgery or not. The women she spoke to wanted good quality lingerie that helps them feel confident and comfortable… and that actually fits! This was how Hummingbird Lingerie was born, out of a desire to create a brand offering “fun and luxurious lingerie that re-empowers the women that need it most”. The brand aims to restore the confidence and feeling of femininity that can be lost on the journey to recover from breast cancer.
I started working with the aims of comfort and fit and the centre of my design, whilst ensuring no compromise was made on style. Using exquisite silk, lace and gold components. I created lingerie specifically designed to looks like ‘normal’ desirable lingerie, with hidden silk secrets of its own. Making all garments carefully by hand, I decided on the option of made to measure. Allowing women the ultimate experience in luxury, the opportunity to feel special, listened to and unashamed and come out the other side with lingerie that made them feel great.
Promoting body positivity is always a huge focus point for me. So championing the face of Hummingbird are not models, but real and relatable women that have fought their very own battle against breast cancer at least once in their life. Each woman brings her own unique beauty; age and size to the brand, encouraging women like Marlene to feel happy and confident in their own lingerie, and learn to celebrate their wonderful and powerful bodies for what they are. Super women.
The Athena collection is available to buy online now, in bra sizes 32-38 B-DD (with bespoke options available), and coordinating briefs available in S, M and L. There’s 20% off during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so pop over to the Hummingbird Lingerie website to take a look.