BEAVERTON, Ore. — Nike has launched a new shoe that takes accessibility to a whole new level.
The apparel giant introduced the Nike GO FlyEase Monday. The shoe features a bi-stable hinge, which makes it possible to get into the sneakers without the use of hands, and midsole tensioner, which allows the shoe to remain secure once it's on.
The designed has made an everyday item more accessible for athletes of all abilities, like Italian fencer Bebe Vio, who uses a wheelchair.
"Usually I spend so much time to get in my shoes," Vio said in a release. "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."
While the GO FlyEase is a new design, hands-free shoes are an item Nike has been working toward for years.
In 2012, then 16-year-old Matthew Walzer — a student at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida — wrote a letter to Nike about the need for an athletic, supportive, self-lacing shoe. Walzer was born with cerebral palsy and was unable to tie and untie his shoes on his own. All he wanted was that added independence when he went off to college.
Walzer's letter ended up in the hands of Nike designer Tobie Hatfield, who had been working with Special Olympians and designing for Paralympians with similar challenges. Hatfield worked with Walzer to develop a shoe he could put on himself. Three years later in 2015, Nike launched the FlyEase design, which makes it easier to slide the foot in and out, while still providing support.
The Nike GO FlyEase will only initially only be available to selected Nike members. The company plans to make the shoe available to more customers later this year.