Breast cancer survivor develops blouse with YKK zippers

October 22, 2019 - United States Of America

Designer and Fashion Institute of Technology assistant professor of economics Yoko Katz has developed Relaxip, a blouse meant to ease the recovery process of post-mastectomy operation patients. Katz, a breast cancer survivor, underwent surgery 5 years ago. Her own experience led her to develop a garment that was fashionable but also functional for patients.

The Relaxip blouse has functions to help patients face the challenges they encounter in their daily life routine. For example, a patient can wear the Relaxip without having to raise their arms. They can put it on at home or in an exam room of a doctor's office just by opening a side zipper, putting their head through, and then zipping it up. The garment gives a sense of normalcy and independence that cancer patients crave. It also includes hidden pockets inside the shirt, next to the zippers, used for securing the surgical drains that are attached to the side of the body for about two weeks after surgery. The sporty, casual and comfortable blouse features colourful YKK Vislon zippers in a #3 size.

“I believe my product has a message that patients are not alone because this blouse is the reminder that somebody else went through the same pain before them,” said Katz. “If my painful experience made them smile in the hardest time, it validates my experience as meaningful. That is very fulfilling as a designer.”

“I am inspired by Katz’s desire to improve the lives of cancer patients through fashion,” said William Langley, vice president of sales at YKK Inc. "I’m glad that YKK’s products are helping Katz achieve her goal of bringing a bit of comfort into the lives of people dealing with difficult medical treatments."

Yoko Katz, a breast cancer survivor of five years, was born and raised in Japan where she lived until graduating college with an economics degree. Her passion for travel and an interest in working in an international setting led her to pursue a PhD in economics at The Graduate Center, City University of New York in 2001. While researching for a dissertation topic she decided to focus on fashion, a lifelong interest of hers. She found no other economists had specialised in that field, so she took it as her specialty in economics. It was an isolated process as there was no other person who had worked in this field in the past. Based on her dissertation, Katz developed two courses: Fashion Economics and Economics for Fashion Creators at Fashion Institute of Technology, FIT, where she currently works as an assistant professor.

In late September 2019, Yoko discovered a recurrence of cancer and is determined to fight once again. Yoko's company, Heal in Heels, is doing a fundraising campaign for Relaxip during the month of breast cancer awareness, October 2019. With the fundraising, Yoko's goal is to reduce the price of the garment so to reach out to more people in need after mastectomy operation.

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