Oregon, US – Nike has created the FlyEase trainer, the sportswear brand’s first mass-market shoe inspired by the disabled.
In 2012 cerebral palsy sufferer Matthew Walzer sent an open letter to Nike CEO Mark Parker explaining that while he can dress independently, limited motor function makes tying his own shoes impossible.
As it turns out Nike had secretly been working on a solution since Jeff Johnson, Nike’s first employee, suffered a stroke that left the right side of his body paralysed. Three years of testing with Walzer, consulted just as Nike would with a professional athlete, has resulted in the Zoom Soldier 8 FlyEase, a variation of the LeBron James popular shoe.
‘At some point some people become less able sooner than others, but eventually we all become less able,’ explains lead designer Tobie Hatfield. ‘It’s not just about stroke victims, and it’s not just about people who suffer from cerebral palsy. It’s about everyone.’
The Big Picture: Treat access as an opportunity, not an obligation. Read our Access For All microtrend for more on brands using the experience of their disabled customers to help improve service across the board.