| 3 minutes read

3 minutes read

How Nike’s ‘Hands-Free Shoe’ Got Inspiration From A Teen With Cerebral Palsy

| Published on February 16, 2021

Individuals with disabilities often require help from someone to assist them with daily chores. Nike ditched the idea of seeking for help by building a hands-free version of their kicks, after years of receiving a written request from one of their customers suffering from cerebral palsy.


The Nike FlyEase comes without any laces. All you have to do is step into it to wear the shoes. Yes, that is all it takes! This shoe is perfect for those living with a range of conditions including cerebral palsy, hemiplegia, dyspraxia and more. So how did this idea become a reality?

A Humble Request from a Humble Customer

In 2012, teenager Matthew Walzer contacted Nike to ask if they could build a lace-free version of their shoes. Walzer suffers from cerebral palsy. Although he has limited mobility in only one hand, he didn’t want his friends or family to come to his rescue especially when he started college. He wanted to be like other kids, who could wear shoes comfortably without relying on others.

Walzer can dress itmself entirely. However, his parents have to help him tie his shoes. By utilising a lace-free version of a shoe brand, he could fit his feet in without any hassles. So what did Nike do?

Years after receiving the request, designers got together to develop a show with a hinged sole that comes with a high-intensity structure. It also provides ease of ingress and egress to the wearer. And behold! The Nike FlyEase is finally available to purchase!

Addressing the gaps in the Fashion Industry

Out of the total world population, 15% of consumers have disabilities of low or high intensities. The fashion industry isn’t well equipped to tackle such customers as of now. This creates a scarce of economic and social opportunities.

Nike is one of the few brands that is trying to make fashion more accessible for such customers. In the earlier years, Levi Strauss & Co. had also come up with similar apparels with regards to jeans that had zips from the top to bottom. Similarly, Tommy Hilfiger has its own line of adaptive clothing known as Tommy Adaptive.

Also Read: Top 7 Local Indian Footwear Brands

The Nike FlyEase comes with the tagline ‘Sports isn’t easy. Your shoes should be FlyEase.” It is designed by Nike shoe designer Tobie Hatfield, and includes the Lebron Soldier 9, Flex Run shoe models and the Pegasus 32!

Do you think this pair will be the perfect gift for a close one?

Source: The Print

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