Homegrown rooibos bra’s no storm in a tea cup

Model Sarah-Jane Thomas displays the bra made almost entirely of Rooibos tea bags. The SA Rooibos Council, Storm in A-G Cup and the Cancer Association of SA unveiled the bra at the start of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Model Sarah-Jane Thomas displays the bra made almost entirely of Rooibos tea bags. The SA Rooibos Council, Storm in A-G Cup and the Cancer Association of SA unveiled the bra at the start of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

A jaw-droppingly beautiful bra, made almost entirely of used Rooibos tea bags, has been created by a leading lingerie brand to shine the spotlight on breast cancer, which affects one in 27 women in South Africa.

The masterpiece was unveiled on Tuesday to mark the start of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and will be auctioned in a few weeks at a fundraising dinner in aid of the Cancer Association of South Africa’s women’s education programmes.

The idea, which was the brainchild of the SA Rooibos Council, Cansa and lingerie retailer Storm in A-G Cup, has been months in the making.

SA Rooibos Council spokesperson Adele du Toit said it had been overwhelmed by support from the public as thousands of used and dried Rooibos tea bags poured in from around the country.

“While only 450 Rooibos tea bags were used in the final design, the bulk of the donated tea bags were used to trial various styles,” Du Toit said.

“Rooibos tea was specifically chosen as it contains powerful antioxidants that help fight inflammation – a leading cause of cancer.

“An added benefit is that Rooibos tea naturally stains the tea bags red, which created the depth in colour we were aiming for, while creating awareness of Rooibos’s cancer-fighting properties.”

After countless hours spent behind the sewing machine, experimenting with Rooibos in all sorts of ways, Storm in A-G Cup’s design team brought the concept bra to life.

Storm in A-G Cup owner Isla Lovell said it was a rewarding project to work on.

“We were immediately drawn to the idea as we often use Rooibos tea to dye our undergarments and have always flown the flag high for breast cancer survivors – our extensive mastectomy bra range is a testament to this,” Lovell said.

“Our primary challenge came with using Rooibos tea bags for a garment that inherently relies on stretch to fit, so we had to adapt the material to the final product.

“We were surprised at how versatile a product Rooibos is – we experimented with the leaves, tea bags and even made beads from the packaging.

“Pretty much all the detail, including the delicate rose, [has] been fashioned from Rooibos tea bags.

“The colouring process was the trickiest part as the final look was very much reliant on how the tea bags took to the dye,” she said.

“We used both Rooibos tea leaves and natural pigment powders to dye the tea bags.

“It took us several months and four prototypes later until we settled on a design.”

The Rooibos bra forms part of several other Cansa initiatives this spring to create awareness of breast cancer and other cancers affecting women.

Cansa spokesperson Lucy Balona said she hoped that, as interest continued to build around the Rooibos bra, women – young and old – would heed the call for regular breast screenings and examinations.

“Detecting breast cancer early means a much higher survival rate. Regular screenings and mammograms are critical – we need to have fewer women affected by cancer and having to face that journey,” she said.

There’s plenty of speculation around how much the Rooibos bra will fetch

“It’s a true work of art. Not only is it exquisite, but all the proceeds raised will help to save more lives through education and early detection,” Balona said.

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