They say necessity is the mother of invention, and in Laurel Kamen’s case, it certainly was.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2011, Kamen underwent a mastectomy. On the eve of her surgery, after trying and failing to find clothes that would be both comfortable and fashionable during her post-operation recovery period, Kamen noticed a gaping hole in the fashion market and decided to fill the niche herself.
Thirteen months later, Kamen is debuting the Alloro Collection, a fashion friendly line of clothing suited for post-op recovery.
“I didn’t want to have to step out of the world of fashion just because I had breast cancer,” Kamen said. “I wanted to stay in the world of fashion, still be able to buy a nice dress to go out to dinner, or a nice blouse to go to a Bat Mitzvah or a wedding. I just felt that women with all of these sensitivities need to be addressed, and they could still look gorgeous.”
The Alloro line is part of a growing movement to accommodate breast cancer survivors. Just last month, Victoria’s Secret responded to a Change.org petition asking for a line of “survivor” mastectomy bras, and Nordstrom department stores offer a service that will convert any basic bra or camisole into a mastectomy bra.
Kamen and her business partner and best friend Christine Irvin considered the effects of breast cancer treatment on a woman’s body, taking into account the change in neckline, color pallor and sensitivity.
“We started looking at what we could do to really help a woman get beautiful back in her life and recapturing the color that cancer had drained from her life,” Irvin said.
Their debut collection is made up of 14 original pieces, all of which will be sold entirely online and through trunk shows.
For Kamen, a former American Express executive, and Irvin, a Wall Street veteran, this is quite the change of pace.
“We can both laugh. We can both say that we’ve been fashion followers,” explained Irvin. “We’ve switched from reading the Wall Street Journal first to reading Vogue first.”
When asked what’s next for this dynamic duo, Kamen was quick to point out that this is just the beginning for Alloro. “This is all new to us and we just want to go slowly and get it right and connect with women,” she said.
One thing’s for sure, the clothes don’t make the woman. The woman makes the clothes.
Twenty-five percent of all proceeds from the Alloro Collection will be donated to the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
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