Wheelchair Fashion: Made in the USA
Finding the perfect pair of jeans is like Goldie Locks and the Three Bears; you gotta go through a few to get just the right one. You’ve found a pair with a great wash, but the fit is off in the thigh, or it hangs off your butt, it’s too tight, saggy in the crotch; you name it. Once you findthat elusive pair, you buy it in every wash possible, and rock em until the wheels fall off (or the inseam busts).
This search for the holy grail of jeans is difficult in the most normal of circumstances. But when you add disability into the mix, and you’ve got another beast entirely. My company aims to aid and end this search for men and women of varying abilities and disabilities.
I was in a traumatic car accident that left me a T4 paraplegic (meaning I can’t feel from the chest down) in 2007. I was 21. In 2012, I entered and won Ms Wheelchair Kentucky. The following year I competed in Ms. Wheelchair America. These competitions introduced me to amazing women from all rolls of life. Dealing with my own clothing obstacles is one thing, but seeing the women like me, struggling in the same ways I was, was another thing entirely. Anna from Colorado said, “I have to overcome obstacles everyday and it would be nice for my clothes to not be one.” I knew I could make a difference first hand. My friends and I want to look as good on the outside as we feel on the inside.
Teaming up with designer Kristin Alexandra Tidwell helped my fashion goal become a reality. Kristin gained unique design experience while traveling throughout Europe after gaining her BFA in Costume Design and Technology from the University of Illinois. She went on to work for theatrical companies, television, and feature films. Arguably Kristin’s most notable expertise was having experience designing adaptable clothing. Needless to say Kristin and I were a perfect fit. Out of our partnership, my fashion company Alter Ur Ego, birthed it’s first wearable jean design.
Right now in the fashion industry there are few options for individuals in wheelchairs and also with varying disabilities. To be honest, if you want to look good, adaptable clothing is often not the way to go. I aim to fit the needs of my clients and provide choice. It’s important for those with disabilities to be given the opportunity to express their alter-ego through fashion.
A young lady from Australia sent me a message recently:
I just want to say thank you so incredibly much for what you are doing. I find it incredibly hard to find clothes that are not only fashionable but most of all comfortable. I also model and when I need to provide clothes for a shoot I find it so hard to look good and be comfortable and confident at the same time….I’m sending you all the luck and kudos I can.
I could not believe my American made garment has made it all the way to Australia! Our goal at Alter Ur Ego is to provide options for people with disabilities and break down social barriers.
We have met our goal but are reaching for the stars and stretching it out to create a webstore on our website and stock it with inventory and look into new colorways for our current offering.