Garment to help women undergoing cancer treatment

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HEADWEAR using smart textiles is now a reality thanks to work by researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Galashiels.

The new soft material is being used to make headgear for women with cancer-related hair loss and 10 per cent of sales of the new products from Selkirk textile company Murray Hogarth will go to Maggie’s Centres.

The company worked closely with the university’s school of textiles and design and South of Scotland Business Solutions and launched the luxury headwear range, Asha last week.

The turbans, headscarf and accessories, which are being marketed under the name Asha, use micro-encapsulated textiles, which offer added comfort as well as aroma-therapeutic benefits to cancer. And they have a range of finishes such as lavender and other aromatherapy oils and thermo-regulated textiles, aimed at helping the women.

The School of Textiles & Design’s business development manager Jim McVee said: “My brief was to assist Murray Hogarth with the development of a well-being garment for women who are having chemo or radiotherapy and which could help with some of the side effects associated with the treatment.

“Fashion Technology at the school developed prototypes and we also recommended that an enhanced finish be added to the fabrics to add further value to the product. This would turn an ordinary garment in to one which would offer the customer different solutions to potential side effects of their treatment. We also helped Murray Hogarth to find a manufacturer who could produce the quantities they needed.”

One of the finishes incorporates small, airtight capsules containing a chosen scent, being welded to the textile fibre. When the garment is worn, friction causes the capsules to burst, releasing a subtle fragrance, such as aloe vera or lavender.

And researchers say there are many different types of micro-encapsulated textile finishes from UV ray management and temperature regulation to vitamins and moisturisers which could be incorporated to suit specific needs.

Maggie’s senior corporate fundraising manager, Gemma Branney, said: “Any kind of work or research to help women with cancer-related hair loss is hugely welcome. We are also delighted that Asha are choosing to donate 10 per cent of their sales to Maggie’s. 
We rely on the generosity of the communities surrounding our centres to ensure we can open our 
doors to support local people affected by cancer.”