ALLELES™ Design Studio Ltd. may be the coolest fashion house/art studio you've never heard of . Founded by McCauley Wanner and Ryan Palibroda and based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, Alleles crafts custom-designed prosthetic covers. And according to the latest statistics, more than two million people worldwide have lost one or more of their limbs.
"We’re artists, not prosthetists. We’re a team of fashion junkies, totally obsessed with design. And when we started the Alleles studio, we were trying to solve a style problem. 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," their website proclaims.
The founders believe "that shopping for a prosthetic cover should be fun, fashionable, and affordable. So we totally promise to always bring you hand-made covers, with an inspired style and a beautiful silhouette". And because prosthetic covers are certainly not one-size-fits all, every cover is custom-designed and custom-fit. Prices start at CDN$325. Detailed instructions are on their website about how to measure to get the proper fit.
To learn more about Alleles Design Studio and how the company started, Welum asked Wanner and Palibroda a few questions:
What was the inspiration behind Allele?
MW: The research was part of my Industrial Design Thesis in 2010. I wanted to look to different ways fashion could be used as a tool to add personality and soul to medical design and debunk the common misconceptions of the frivolity of fashion. I looked to different assistive devices such hearing aids, walkers, wheelchairs, catheters, blood bags, insulin pumps, etc. and ended up getting introduced to John-Paul, a prosthetic wearer who had a lot to say about the lack of choice for amputees regarding cosmetics.
RP: John-Paul Armstrong was very excited there could be options for him, because at the time, he basically was just given stuff and really just had to deal with it. The inspiration behind Alleles was to give choice to people who do not have it.