These prosthetic covers are changing the lives of amputees.
If you’ve ever seen an amputee wearing a prosthetic—or if you are an amputee—you know that prosthetic limbs typically look the same and the feature that separates them is whether or not they’re robotic. One thing you probably haven’t seen is a stylish-looking limb, and we’re not just talking about a cool color. That’s exactly what a fashion and design company, Alleles, is creating for those with leg prosthetics to help amputees feel like their best, fashionable selves.
The founders of Alleles, McCauley Wanner and Ryan Palibroda, are not amputees themselves, but they have always wanted to fuse their love for fashion and practical innovation to help others.
“[When] we started the Alleles studio, we were trying to solve a style problem,” said Wanner and Palibroda on their website. “Not a limb one. In an industry saturated with robotic aesthetics and clunky contours, our prosthetic covers endeavour to transform something mechanical into something mechani-chic.”
While prosthetics need to be functional more than anything else, the founders wondered how they could help make the current prosthetics “fit” even better with their amputee owners so that dressing up with the limbs could actually be fun. The prosthetics today may be the best yet because of their ability to mimic the movement and joints of a human leg, but they lack the ability to form a loving relationship with the human who wears them. That’s where the beautiful covers come in.
“We want our covers to reveal your individuality, and accessorize your outfits,” the founders said. “We truly believe that shopping for a prosthetic cover should be fun, fashionable, and affordable.”
Their designs include styles for both men and women for a variety of activities, whether it’s a night out at a masquerade party or an intense gym session. The covers mimic the shape of a calf muscle and the entire portion of the lower leg, giving the illusion that the prosthetic may actually be a real leg. With the awesome designs that blend into the wearer’s outfit, sometimes it can be difficult to tell the difference.
“I love that I can walk down the street and get complimented on how cool my cover is instead of the typical ‘What happened?’ conversation. I think it resonates with people that I’m making a necessary medical device into a fashion accessory; that I’m showcasing my prosthesis as a unique part of my identity instead of having it just be ‘there,'” one amputee wrote on Instagram.
Designs start at $375 and amputees can have custom designs made at $1500 each. The company releases a new collection for Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer to resemble the fashion industry’s schedule. Their intention is that amputees can pick out their covers each season just like they pick out their clothes.
As for Wanner and Palibroda, they love their jobs and, while they’re grateful for the recognition and awards, they’re just happy to help a group of people whose individual needs often fall by the wayside.
“I get to prove every day that fashion is life changing — not frivolous,” Wanner said
You can follow the company on Instagram here and see how amputees are sporting their covers on an every day basis.