A headline from People proclaims “Nike’s New Sneaker Will Solve a Very Important Problem for People with Disabilities“. Similar headlines can been found from USA Today, Huffington Post, Glamour, and so many more. Another key article title comes from theshoegame.com it reads “Nike Designs Flyease to Improve the Quality of Life for Disabled Athletes“.
All of these articles are talking about Nike’s new FLYEASE technology which allows a person to put on a shoe by opening the heel and just sliding their foot in and closing the shoe around the heel. The new design removes the need for laces. So for those of us with hand dexterity issues, shoes using this technology are a breakthrough.
I have been seeing the articles about the shoes, Nike FLYEASE Zoom soldier 8 everywhere around the internet for the last few days including on blogs specifically devoted to disability issues.
Most of the press around the new shoes includes references to Nike’s mission statement which includes the line “If you have a body, you’re an athlete”. Which is a great sentiment. Too bad it took Nike this long to include disabled people as a targeted market.
All of the run up marketing for the shoe’s release today has had a focus on all disabled people and includes this video from Nike explaining the inspiration for the shoe and why it’s important to include disabled people.
The video talks about both a Nike employee who had a stroke and a young man with cerebral palsy. Both of whom were instrumental in having Nike design the technology and having them bring it to market. The video is very clear about the wide ranging applications for shoes like this. Designer Tobie Hatfield says “it’s not just about stroke victims. It’s not just about cerebral palsy. It’s about all of it and thus the FLYEASE technology”
The language surrounding the technology and the shoes is so universal that you might believe it when they say disabled athletes or people with disabilities. I did.
I waited for today (the official product launch and googled Nike Zoom Soldier 8. I found them at Footlocker, they seem to be selling well as many sizes are already unavailable (or they just seriously understocked).
The problem, they are only available in the Men’s section. There is no corresponding design for women. So when they were talking about people with disabilities and disabled athletes. They really meant men with disabilities.
I thought that I must be mistaken so I searched for FLYEASE and women and got nothing. I went to shoe websites and searched new Nike arrivals for women and still no accessible shoe for women.
The product news announcement on Nike’s website doesn’t mention a separate launch for a women’s version of the shoes. Just a lot of talk of including disabled people even though women don’t seem to be included.
So if everyone with a body is an athlete. What about disabled women’s bodies? Do we get shoes too? Or was there some mistake and I just haven’t found them yet?
Seriously Nike, let me know.
I e-mailed Nike about this and their response so far boils down to “we’re looking into it”. If I get anything more concrete I’ll update again.