For many, shoes are a pain to put on. Our footwear requires some dexterity. And that’s more than just an annoyance for people with disabilities, ranging from arthritis to partial paralysis. Nike’s Go FlyEase is the first sneaker you can slip on without bending over or using your hands at all.
“It’s improving people’s lives,” says Sarah Reinertsen, the former Paralympian and FlyEase Innovation Team manager.
The design relies on a breakthrough bistable hinge that’s built into the shoe’s bouncy outsole. That hinge essentially splits the shoe in two (Nike designers mocked up the first Go prototype by sawing a shoe in half). When the hinge is open, you can slide your foot into the toe box. Then, by pressing your weight down, the shoe snaps shut on your foot like a molded marshmallow. A tensioner band automatically wraps around the entire shoe to help hold it together.
The Go FlyEase is proof that universal design (design built to accommodate disabilities) can actually lead to a product that’s better for everyone. Nike quickly sold out of the Go at launch in February 2021 and faced some criticism from the disabled community as shoe collectors snatched it up, listing it on resale sites for twice the MSRP.
“We’re not trying to keep this away from people, or make this a hard-to-get shoe,” says Reinertsen. “That’s not at all what we want.”
While Nike never intended artificial scarcity—it supplied tens of thousands of pairs for launch—the company will address shortages with significantly more inventory (and colorways) by this holiday season.
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