Alter UR Ego, a Fashion Line with You in Mind

Heidi McKenzie, AUE Designer
Q & A with Heidi McKenzie

What led to the start of ALTER UR EGO? 

In 2007 I was in a car accident that left me a T4 paraplegic. Not long after, in 2012, I was crowned Ms. Wheelchair Kentucky, which opened so many doors...that were handicap accessible of course! I was an advocate for those in wheelchairs and I traveled the country sharing my story. I went on to compete in Ms. Wheelchair America and, though I didn't win, this was my first experience spending time with other girls in wheelchairs from other states. I found that we all struggled when it came to finding stylish functional clothing, so I decided to create my own line!

What makes this line of clothing unique for persons with disabilities? 

I have firsthand experience of our daily activities and the role that clothes that fit correctly play. I enjoy hearing thoughts and ideas from others with disabilities in order to incorporate them into the line. If I can make one thing easier for someone, when getting dressed, I will have done my job. My clothing line is designed for a seated body and has both a comfortable fit and stylish look. One feature that is quite helpful is the pockets located on the thighs for easy access of your phone, keys or anything else you don't want falling off your lap. The high-back waistline is also important so that nothing shows when you are bending over. We got you covered!

How can people purchase from your line? 

Visit and click on the shop page, You can also sign up for the newsletter to receive updates and discounts.
Have you always been involved in fashion? 

Yes, I have. I started picking out my clothes at a young age. I was studying Fashion Merchandising before my accident. After my accident I wasn't sure about being a part of the fashion industry as a girl in a wheelchair. But then I met others in chairs who also struggled to find stylish, functional clothing and so I gained the confidence I needed to design clothing that has someone like us in mind.

What are some things you wish mainstream fashion would consider regarding people with physical disabilities? 

I wish mainstream fashion was inclusive. I wish a model in a wheelchair could roll down the runway and it not be this life-changing, inspirational moment, but it be normal, just like someone walking down the runway.  Hopefully some famous designers will join the club and create more clothing options for those with physical disabilities.

What are your future plans for ALTER UR EGO?

I want to design a complete adaptable clothing line with shirts, shorts, jackets, dresses, skirts, vests, slacks, shoes, and even athletic clothing! This year we are working on expanding our jeans to kids, teens and plus sizes.

What's been one of your favorite moments since starting the line? 

When someone that has been in a wheelchair for years and not worn jeans had the opportunity and made them practical again.

What message do you have for others wanting to put something out there, as you have, but are intimidated to begin? 

If you believe in what you create, don't let anything discourage you from doing what you have to and be able to share it with others.
Can you tell us more about your background?

I was born and raised in Ohio. After my accident I moved to Eastern Kentucky and have been here for the past 9 years. I am a T4 paraplegic and enjoy adaptable sports such as sled hockey and kayaking. I am a board member of Build Inclusion formed by parents of children with varying abilities, who know that true inclusion must move beyond “awareness." We travel to elementary schools to educate kids about people with disabilities. I also am on the board of the Kentucky Congress on Spinal Cord Injury, a group of individuals with SCI who are dedicated to educate and legislate change for the disabled community.

If there's anything else you'd like to add, please do so:

AUE adaptable jeans are in the (dis)ABLED Beauty Show, an exhibition celebrating all-inclusive beauty and a deconstruction of the stigmatization of those living with various physical disabilities. July 29, 2016 – March 17, 2017 at Kent State University.

Fashion is for Every Body the 1st Inclusive Fashion Show in Nashville.  AUE adaptable jeans will make their debut! Promoting inclusion + body positivity. Fashion is for all of us! September 10, 2016.


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