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Nike’s new shoes leave no one behind6 min read

February 5, 2021 4 min read

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Nike’s new shoes leave no one behind6 min read

Reading Time: 4 minutes
A woman crushes the back of her shoe as she walks. Image: Herhisshoes

Are you familiar with this shoe crushing phenomenon? Well, this may not be a problem for much longer. It’s true, laziness is no longer going to be the leading cause of shoe destruction.

Enter Nike’s Go Fly-Ease. It’s a hands-free pair of sneakers that you can slip on and off with absolutely no help from your hands.

Image: Nike

Are you thinking, wow this is great, but are we really that lazy? Well, many people joked about this, but this shoe is far more revolutionary than you’d think. These simple slip on-slip off shoes are part of Nike’s Fly-Ease series. A series of shoes designed for athletes with disabilities. Or rather just anyone with disabilities as Nike claims that anyone with a body is, after all, an athlete.

Matthew Walzer: The Muse

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Matthew Walzer with the first prototype of Fly-Ease in 2021. Image: Nike

The Fly-Ease Series was inspired by this concerned young man. Matthew Walzer was a 16-year-old boy when he wrote to Nike in 2012. He suffers from a condition called Cerebral Palsy that affects his nervous system. It has made his muscles weak and performing regular physical tasks can be challenging for him.

Matthew was born two weeks premature, and a problem with his lungs led to this lifelong condition. Despite what Matthew was told, he was able to overcome several challenges, get through school, and even get admitted into college. However, something constantly bothered him. He was unable to tie his shoelaces. So, like a true pioneer, Matthew looked for a solution. He wrote to Nike:

“My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes every day. I’ve worn Nike basketball shoes all my life. I can only wear this type of shoe, because I need ankle support to walk. At 16 years old, I am able to completely dress myself, but my parents still have to tie my shoes. As a teenager who is striving to become totally self-sufficient, I find this extremely frustrating and, at times, embarrassing.”

An excerpt from Matthew Walzer’s letter to nike

The Fly-Ease Series

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Tobie Hatfield ans Matthew Walzer. Image: Nike

Matthew’s letter caught the attention of Tobie Hatfield, Nike’s top shoe designer. And together, over the next three years, Matthew and Tobie created Nike’s first Fly-ease pair of shoes. These shoes had zips and velcro in the place of laces. However, they didn’t stop there. Matthew had mentioned that he can only wear basketball shoes as the high ankle provided the support his legs needed. And getting into a shoe with such a high ankle can be challenging too. So, they created a shoe where the high ankle zips on and off.

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The initial Fly Ease shoe. Image: Nike

Go Fly-Ease

The unique hinge allows the shoe to be easily snapped on and off. Tension bands that run around the centre of the shoes, make the shoes stable so they always stays upright. Image: Nike

Now, Nike has created an even more novel and efficient design. Their Go Fly-Ease has no zips or velcro and is truly entirely hands-free. It’s engineered in such a way that even once it is removed or kicked off, it remains upright. That way you can simply slip the shoe back on without having to adjust it at all. While this shoe will most definitely be a blessing for athletes with disabilities, it seems like the perfect shoe for Covid-19. The less contact the better, isn’t that right?

“Usually I spend so much time to get in my shoes. With the Nike GO FlyEase, I just need to put my feet in and jump on it. The shoes are a new kind of technology, not only for adaptive athletes but for everyone’s real life.”

Beatrice Vio, a professional wheelchair fencer from Italy talked about Go Fly-Ease on Twitter.
Image: Nike
Image: Nike
Image: Nike

Nike’s Go Fly-Ease shoes come in three colour combinations. They are not yet available in the market and so far they have only been released for exclusive use to some selected Nike users.

Take a deeper look into Nike’s new shoes:

Think with Owliver:
Can you think of any seemingly regular daily task that could be challenging for someone with a disability? Do you have any ideas about what the disability-friendly future of the product or task could be? Let us know in the comments below.

With Excerpts From: Nike, Nike, The Logical Indian

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