by Jerry ElengicalOct 09, 2021
Nike’s new launch - the Nike GO FlyEase trainers - take an important step in intuitive design with a hands-free pair of shoes. The 'easy on, easy off' mechanism of the shoes enables people with different body conditions to be able to wear them without having to tie shoe laces or adjust anything.
The inspiration behind the design is a heart-warming story that amplifies the need for such a design to exist. In 2012, the then 16-year-old Matthew Walzer, suffering from cerebral palsy, wrote a letter to Nike expressing a concern that would catalyse such a monumental change. Having overcome several other physical limitations with his condition, tying shoes remained to be a problem that he couldn’t solve without seeking external help. In his letter he mentioned: “My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to tie my shoes every day. I've worn Nike basketball shoes all my life. I can only wear this type of shoe, because I need ankle support to walk. At 16 years old, 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.”
The letter was noticed by Tobie Hatfield, a renowned Nike designer working with Special Olympians on similar issues faced by them, in addition to designing for Paralympians. This led to the debut of the FlyEase series where the design ethos has been “making shoes easier for everyone”. The Nike GO FlyEase is the latest development in this series, which has achieved a seamless design that has no buckles, velcro, laces, or any excess and is truly a ‘slip-on, slip-off’ shoe.
The GO FlyEase is essentially two sections of the trainer connected with a bi-stable hinge that keeps the shoe secure in a fully open and fully closed state, enabling the user to wear them without using their hands. A signature feature of the trainers is the Nike GO FlyEase tensioner. The tensioner holds the bi-stable hinge securely in place and allows for any kind of movement such as kicking off a shoe as the basis of accessible and empowering design. The elevated kickstand heel aids the movement of pushing the shoes off using just your feet. These trainers are an example of a process converted into product, where the shoe successfully mimics how many people already slide into shoes and kick them off, without necessarily tying and untying laces.
While the design of the trainers is mechanically complicated, it also translates to serving the broadest range of activities and lifestyles – whether the shoes are on a student with books in their hands, a parent juggling their daily life or champion fencer Bebe Vio. Beatrice Maria Adelaide Marzia Vio, better known as Bebe Vio, is an Italian wheelchair fencer. She praised the trainers saying, “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”.
The Nike GO FlyEase is available initially via invite for select Nike members and will be open to broader consumer availability later this year.