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Leading athletic clothing and footwear brand, Nike, unveiled a first-of-its-kind hands-free and lace-less sneaker on Wednesday, February 1.
Nike's 'GO Flyease' has been designed with the idea of taking the footwear technology to the next level while keeping into consideration the 'comfort' aspect.
The company, in a blog post, said that the 'easy on, easy off' sneaker is for those who find it difficult to put their shoes on without assistance or the one's who want to get rid of the efforts.
Matthew Walzer, who is suffering from Cerebral palsy, had reached out to Nike in 2012. The 16-year-old said that it was his dream to go to college without worrying about someone having to assist him in wearing shoes.
Walzer was born two months premature, with under-developed lungs that had led to the mobility disorder. While he had overcome many physical obstacles, tying his own shoelaces remained a challenge.
"At 16, 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," Matthew Walzer had written.
Walzer's letter had inspired Tobie Hatfield to create a shoe that would address his specific need. According to media reports, Nike had delivered a Hatfield design to the teenager to wear testing but continued to experiment with the features for people with special needs.
Reportedly, this incident led to the development of Nike FlyEase - a range of no-lace footwear launched in 2015, with the brand introducing its most innovative design on Monday.
"What I love about this shoe in particular is we listened to the extreme needs of [people with specific limitations]. But with this solution we feel like it's a universal proposition," Sarah Reinertsen, the Senior Director of Nike Ease told Fast Company.
Nike's lace-less sneakers are being lauded not just for the ease of putting on and taking off without the use of the hands but for being launched at a time when a global pandemic has cautioned people against touching vulnerable surfaces.
Speaking on the features, the sneakers have unique tension bands instead of laces that secures the shoe. Putting it on merely requires stepping into the shoes so that it falls into the right position. Meanwhile, the act of taking it off is done by stepping on the heel.
"In the Nike GO FlyEase, this translates to serving the broadest range of active lifestyles possible—whether the wearer is champion fencer Bebe Vio, a student racing to class or a parent with their hands full," the brand said.
Vio, an Italian wheelchair fencer, said, "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."
According to Techstory, Nike has reported that people are shifting from sports and fitness footwear to slippers and crocs. The publication reported that the brand witnessed a surge in terms of revenue on the products that offered comfort instead of just aesthetic value.
The shoes go on sale on February 15, for Rs. 8758 ($120) in limited quantities for subscribers of the free membership program on Nike's website which also falls according to their 'direct to consumer' approach. However, a broader availability is planned for later this year.
NDTV reported that Tobie Hatfield, the designer, had launched the Flyease footwear line in 2015. However, Nike had been experimenting with several solutions for the past five years. It had been using velcro to zippers to cable dials for coming up with the most adequate solution, however, the inspiration for the "accessible and empowering design" of hands-free sneakers had come from a letter written to the company in 2012.
Brand loyalists are excited about the brand new shoes. Meanwhile, celebrities are joining the appreciation bandwagon.
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