Wheels in Fashion

Irish sisters Izzy and Ailbhe Keane are changing the way the world views wheelchairs, one wheel at a time! Izzy was born with a birth defect called spina bifida, so she has needed to use a wheelchair her whole life. When Izzy was a kid, she started to decorate her wheels for all sorts of holidays and special occasions. Ailbhe remembered this always made Izzy feel confident and good about herself, because people would tell her they loved her wheels! As the sisters grew older, they started to realize the potential to give other wheelchair users a similar experience. In her last year of school at the National College of Art and Design, Ailbhe dedicated her class project to Izzy and designed a collection of stylish, waterproof wheel covers!

Izzy has always loved her wheelchair, but she knew that not everyone shared her positive feelings. Wheelchairs are mostly designed by hospitals, so they are seen as medical devices. However, over 130 million people around the world need wheelchairs to have the freedom to move around everyday. Ailbhe's goal with her project was to help transform a medical device into a fashion statement, and give its user a new way to express themselves. Izzy loved being able to match her wheels to her outfit each day, and noticed more people approaching her to ask about her wheelchair! The sisters have since started a company called Izzy's Wheels, and are now working with famous artists, illustrators, and fashion designers to create each unique cover. The company already has 50 designs for sale, and their motto is "If you can't stand up, stand out!"

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