Rather than covering up missing limbs to make amputees blend in with a crowd, Canadian company Alleles wants to help give its customers a leg up in the style department by turning prosthetics into fashion statements with custom fitted covers to suit their personalities and flair.
According to reports, 29-year-old McCauley Wanner came up with the idea for his senior thesis at the University of Calgary but many of the school's professors were against the idea. But knowing that she was onto something huge, she kept moving forward and eventually set up Alleles with her co-founder, 34-year-old Ryan Palibroda.
Alleles differs from other custom prosthetic companies because they work with the customers' existing artificial limbs to give them makeovers.
Most prosthetics are made with plastic and given a fleshy tone to make them try to camouflage the wearer's missing limb. But Wanner said she thinks this attempt to hide their prosthetics only stigmatizes amputees further. Instead, she wanted Alleles to provide amputees a way to look at their prosthetics and think, how would I like to dress it up today?
"Amputees start looking at their prosthetics differently; it just becomes another part of their wardrobe. They can switch them in and out, they can wear them for different occasions," she said.
While other companies also want to give amputees fashionable prosthetics, they often cost upwards of hundreds up to thousands of dollars. Wanner's company helps to keep costs low for the customer by letting them send in the measurements of their existing prosthetic and creating covers for them that can be easily switched.
Wanner's customers testify that their self-confidence has returned or was given a boost ever since they started wearing Alleles covers. Instead of getting stares and being asked about their missing limbs, people approach them and compliment them on the covers and ask where they bought them.
Currently Alleles offers some ready-to-wear cover designs and can also do custom designs for an extra fee.