A paralyzed designer has created comfortable and stylish jeans specifically for women who use wheelchairs.
When you think about it, most of our clothing is made around a standard design without much consideration for the needs of people with disabilities. This is now set to change because of the influence of a lady called Heidi McKenzie, a T4 paraplegic who has designed a whole new jeans collection canned Alter Ur Ego, which have been created with people who use wheelchairs in mind.
Discovering a niche
Heidi, who was left paralysed at the age of 21 from a serious car accident, first came up with the idea when she discovered she was not alone in experiencing difficulty finding comfortable yet flattering clothes that could fit a seated figure.
Heidi took part in Ms. Wheelchair Kentucky 2012, and after talking with her fellow competitors about their own issues with suitable clothing, she sparked off an idea in her mind that would lead to her branching into the fashion world.
Now aged 29, Heidi teamed up with designer Kristin Alexadra Tidwell, and together they came up with the design for a functional and adaptable pair of jeans that would feel comfortable and look good on a wheelchair user.
Not just for the ladies
The jeans have been adapted to fit both men and women, include large side pockets that are easy to access, are made with Spandex for ultimate comfort, as well as being cut with a high-waisted back and tummy control panel. There is also a discreet catheter opening.
Designed to fit the needs of wheelchair users, Heidi has done away with the useless front and back pockets found on regular style jeans, as well as incorporating a hight fit on the waist that prevents the jeans cutting into your hips while sitting. The special design also makes the jeans easier for users to pull on and off.
Heidi had always wanted to work in fashion, and that is what she was concentrating on before her tragic car accident. After her recuperation, she restarted her plan and graduated from a small business programme before taking an accelerated course on how to start a clothing line.
Originally, Heidi wanted to own her own fashion retail store, but her accident helped her to realise that she could design her own range of clothing for wheelchair users because of her first hand experience.
While researching and studying, she found that most adaptable clothing has always been targeted towards the elderly, and what she was seeing was not really fashionable or flexible enough for people to express their own individual tastes or personalities.
The main aim for her designs, other than fashion and comfort, is for the wearer to be able to feel confident while wearing their jeans because they were made for wheelchair users.
A bright future
So far, Heidi has received nothing but compliments for her forward thinking designs, even to a point where non-wheelchair users have noticed the useful side pockets on the jeans, and have asked where they can buy a pair.
The great news is that Heidi is not going to stop at only designing jeans for her Alter Ur Ego range. She also plans to design and launch a whole range of sustainable clothing that will include dresses, jackets and blouses.
All the new designs she has in mind will be specifically for wheelchair users, and she hopes that her new clothing ranges will help to give her customers confidence to express themselves, and to break down more social barriers.