Angelina was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease aged 12 and had her ileostomy formed aged 13 after 11 months of unsuccessful treatment. Due to her own struggles with her stoma and finding stoma-friendly clothing, she founded Aura Clothing; a fashion brand that creates custom clothing for those with an ostomy. I interviewed her about her experiences with Crohn’s, her ostomy and Aura Clothing.
Tell me a bit more about yourself.
My name is Angelina and I’m 23 years old. I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at the age of 12 after months of feeling unwell. I spent 11 months after my diagnosis trying different treatments in order to get the disease under control, but unfortunately nothing worked. At the age of 13 I had surgery to remove my large bowel and form an ileostomy. For me, my ostomy is a blessing in disguise and I’m so grateful for the life it’s given me.
What is Aura Clothing?
We create custom garments for those living with an ostomy. Aura Clothing was born out of my own love of fashion and personal experiences of living with Crohn’s Disease and an ileostomy.
Our products bring together the finest materials and purposeful design, while being stylish, to meet the needs of ostomates who want products that are both unique and beautiful.
We are motivated by the women and men who struggle to wear everyday clothing due to their ostomy, tubes, scars, hernias, stretch marks or even those who are uncomfortable with their abdominal region.
Our aim is to create and produce high quality garments with functional detail that not only see you through the coming seasons, but items that you can fall in love with.
Why did you create Aura Clothing?
Aura Clothing stemmed from my struggles to find clothing that concealed and supported my ostomy. I’ve always struggled to find clothing that was both flattering and functional for my stoma. In the early days of ostomy life, I remember feeling like I had to starve myself because I didn’t want to my bag to fill up and show under my school uniform. I remember saying no to girls holidays and beach trips because I was so terrified of people knowing I had a bag. I know what it’s like to struggle with clothing and fashion is such an important part in everyone’s identity. I felt like I couldn’t fully be myself because of the clothes I had to wear with my ostomy.
This is why I really wanted to create a brand that caters for those who have maybe felt like I did all those years ago.
What was your inspiration for the brand?
My main Inspiration for Aura Clothing are the people who struggled to wear clothing due to their ostomy, scar, hernia etc. I wanted to create a brand that recognises these inspiring people and help them regain their confidence through clothing.
All of our clothing looks ‘normal’ and can be worn by any one, disability or not. However, those with an ostomy will benefit greatly from our products.
Do you think the fashion industry is inclusive? If not, why not?
I think big, well-established brands are becoming more aware of those who are “different”. Whether it be a hidden or a visible disability, popular brands such as ASOS are implementing changes to try and include these people within their brand. The stigma around disabilities is beginning to loosen and I think a handful of brands are become more and more aware of this target market.
Although they don’t yet make clothing for those with a disability, they do seem to be giving a helping hand in raising the awareness around disabilities. However, I would not go as far as to say that the fashion industry is more inclusive. To be inclusive, I would expect to not only see disabled models but also to see brands actually catering for the different disabilities.
Do you think we need more representation in the fashion industry?
100%! We desperately need more representation in the fashion industry. It’s been so lovely to see big brands such as Pretty Little Thing do a complete edit with Rosie Campbell and In The Style featuring our very own Amber Davies, Rebekah Wilkinson and Natalie-Amber. Not only does it raise awareness, but it helps normalise stomas and allows those who have just had their stoma to feel more confident in themselves. It would be great to see more brands following in these footsteps.
How is Aura Clothing specially created to suit ostomies?
We work with a leading swimwear manufactures that cater for big brands like Dior and Heidi Klein Swim to ensure that the swimwear you receive is of the highest standard. Each bikini or swimsuit is made from soft, luxurious recycled material and has a built in internal pocket where your ostomy bag/bags can be placed. The internal pocket helps support the bag as it fills, it keeps it away from the skin as well as concealing it.
Our best selling Aura Jeans are ethically made by a leading specialist denim manufacturer. We used the highest grade materials and manufacturing procedures to ensure that our jeans are top quality.
We designed our ‘core inner layer’ which is made out of a luxurious and soft fabric that absorbs moisture and stretches with your body. The inner layer is there in order to help conceal and support the bag/bags without restricting it. It keeps the stoma bag flat against the skin as well as helping hide lumps or bumps around the abdomen area. This means that ostomates can wear your our jeans knowing the support is already built in.
How is Aura ethical and why is the environment important to you?
Being an ostomate of 10 years, I’m always conscious of the fact that my ostomy bag is made from plastic and cannot be reused/recycled. This is why I started researching more fast fashion and the environmental impact is has. After doing a lot of research and learning more about it, I decided that I needed to ensure that the products I launch are ethical and sustainable.
During the early stages of the business, I met with many manufactures around the UK that cater for brand’s such as Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo. I learnt very quickly that these fast fashion brands use cheap labour and unsafe working conditions to meet the demands of their customers. Unfortunately the environmental cost of fast fashion is dreadful. I urge anyone that’s interested in fashion to learn more about fast fashion and the environment.
At Aura Clothing ethical fashion is so important. We source high quality materials, seek out suitable manufacturers and use packaging that is eco friendly.
Do you think social media has helped the stoma community?
I think social media is great for meeting and connecting with those who have shared the same experiences as yourself. Before having social media I thought I was the only person in the world that had Crohn’s and an ostomy, now I’m connected with thousands of inspiring people that make me feel like I’m not so alone anymore. The ostomy community is growing more and more by the day with the help of social media making it easily accessible for those who need the support and inspiration. It’s great to have a platform where we can all flaunt our bags/scars and raise that much needed awareness without feeling like we are being judged.
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