Nike recently announced the release of its first-ever hands-free sneaker, called the GO FlyEase. Available in three colorways, the style is an advancement of the brand’s FlyEase series, which was originally designed to improve the lives of athletes with disabilities, using zippers and straps rather than laces.
Like the original FlyEase, the GO FlyEase sneakers were designed to make the act of putting on and taking off shoes for the one in four people who have a disability easier.
“Usually, I spend so much time getting into my shoes,” said Beatrice “Bebe” Vio — a fencer and Paralympic winner, who walks using prosthetic legs — in a press release. (Vio tested the shoe for Nike.) “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.”
Nike hopes this reimagined, accessible shoe encourages everyone to enjoy sports. “The original concept around the shoe was to support our adaptive athletes better, but we just quickly, throughout the process, found that the shoe was really universal,” said one designer in a “Behind The Design” video that Nike shared alongside the press release.
The GO FlyEase sneakers are not only attractive to people with disabilities, but also to anyone looking for an easy, on-the-go sneaker. Nike has started the ball rolling with their design and it is much more likely that other brands will begin thinking about adaptive foot ware within their collections.
Like so many adaptive devices, cost is always a concern. Disabled individuals may not have the luxury of busting their budgets for adaptive shoes if they are already living on a fixed monthly income. Compounding financial stressors related to COVID-19 may also prevent purchases from the larger population. As a disabled mother myself, I would have a severe crisis of conscience laying out that kind of money on sneakers.
Fingers crossed Nike considers other ways of making the Go FlyEase more equitable for the disabled community. Methods of private insurance billing, grants, deep-discounts, or need-based giveaways could all be viable options. Accessibility is great, but it also has to be affordable for those of us on a fixed income.