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Prototyping bra alternatives: How can females affected by breast cancer articulate their individual bra needs and how can these be implemented into design

This practice-driven PhD is concerned with alternative bra needs of females affected by breast cancer, who live with asymmetric, differently sized or no breasts after a mastectomy. Market available post-mastectomy bras and external breast prothesis are designed to reinstate general body symmetry. There are currently few bra options available that cater to the individual needs of females who choose to live without these aids.

To better understand how garment wearers clothing needs can inform design development processes, this project reviews the garment wearer's and clothing designers' roles within applied case studies.

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More about Silke

Silke Hofmann is a clothing designer and design researcher with a well-rounded background in the international prêt-à-porter industry. She has worked as a women's wear designer in New York City and Berlin and as a fashion illustrator in Paris. Her clothing designs have been featured in I-D magazine, Wallpaper magazine, Paris Vogue, Vogue Germany and arte.tv, amongst others.

In her design practice, Silke is interested in the wearer-garment relationship. Her PhD research is situated in the female health spectrum and focuses on the aesthetic and ergonomic bra needs of females affected by breast cancer, alongside whom Silke works in participatory prototyping design sessions.

MA Knitwear Design, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, 2006

BA Fashion Design, Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York, Magna Cum Laude, 2002

Lecturer for fashion management, Mediadesign University of Applied Sciences, Berlin, August 2014 - 2020

Head of Womenswear, Michalsky, Berlin, 2010 - 2012

Womenswear Designer, Michalsky, Berlin, 2006 - 2010

Fashion Illustrator, Chloé, Paris, 2005

Womenswear Designer, Tracy Reese, New York City, November 1999 - 2004

Assistant Designer, DKNY, New York City, 1999

Design Research Society DRS Bursary Award, 2018

Yves Saint Laurent Award, Fashion Institute of Technology, 2002

Evelyn Dawson Wynn Memorial Award, Fashion Institute of Technology, 1999

Fashion Illustration Design Critic Award, Fashion Institute of Technology, 1998

(2021) Magic Circle. Matters of Activity, Cluster of Excellence, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and Berlin-Weissensee Art Academy.

(2020) Reality – How can it be different?. Dutch Design Week. Eindhoven

(2019) Design Research for Change Showcase. London Design Fair.

(2018) Design Research Evolution. London Design Festival.

(2014) „…about Edith”. L’Oiseau Presente. Berlin Art Week.

'Breasts & Bras: History, Health and Fashion', London College of Fashion Lingerie Society Symposium, London College of Fashion UAL, 2019

'The Wearer’s Voice in Fashion Designing', Pop-Up! Lecture, Sarajevo Academy of Fine Arts, 2019

'Does Design Care…? [2] ', Research for Change Design Workshop, Chiba University, Japan, 2019

'Needs-Based Clothing Design', CA²RE, HafenCity University, Hamburg, Germany, 2021

'Dzing-Dzing Ce qui nous préoccupe : recherche design en école d’art', Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne, 11th edition, Saint-Étienne, 2019

'my LIKEness', National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement. (2018) Engagement, Edinburg, 2018