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Typically, the image of a prosthetic is depicted as cold, hard and metallic – a hollow, impersonal structure built for functionality and lacking any semblance of flair. Human prosthetics have come a long way in replicating the maneuvers and abilities of the limbs they replace, but that shouldn’t deter how they look aesthetically. That’s the idea behind Alleles Design Studio, which designs and produces ready to wear, customizable prosthetics that up the panache factor of what one might expect from the nuts and bolts of a medical prosthetic.

Canadian artists McCauley Warner and Ryan Palibroda founded the studio after becoming inspired by the startling lack of options available for people who require prosthetics. They developed lavishly decorated and intricately detailed prosthetic coverings, commonly referred to as “fairings,” to spice up the rote, inhuman feel of a typical prosthetic in order to transform it into a work of art that could make its wearer feel good and allow them to express shades of their personality to boot.

These fairings are created in their Vancouver based studio using a highly durable and opaque form of engineering plastic known as ABS, which is cheap to manufacture and ideal for structural applications. The studio is heavily influenced by the fashion industry when it comes to the design aspect of the fairings, but never lose sight of the technology that backs the process, tinkering with different methods and procedures for the improvement of the product.

More than 2 million people in the United States alone have lost limbs, and around 185,000 amputations occur each year. Most of the time, prosthetic limbs can cost anywhere from $5,000 to a ghastly $50,000, and when you consider that most have to be replaced every three to five years, its easy to see why an affordable and customizable option is of great importance. That’s the main goal behind Alleles – with pieces starting at just $260, the studio is affording many a product that is accessible, cheaper and one that lets them feel chic and stylish.

Studios like Alleles are a breath of fresh air in an industry primarily focused only on efficiency and functionality. When it boils down to it, many prosthetics are just souped up metal sticks, a detachable piece of equipment that no doubt aids the user wearing it, but does little to accentuate who they are or work to make the person feel truly whole again.

They say that clothes make the man, and in a sense, the same could be true of a wearer of prosthetics. By designing fashionable prosthetics that essentially don’t look or feel like a mechanical add-on replacing part of one’s flesh and blood, it empowers users with the opportunity to express their individuality, to relish in the ability to look and feel good and to choose a piece that allows them to feel comfortable and at home in their own skin. That right there is a thing of beauty.

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