Nike Embracing Universal Design
With a new shoe built from the ground up to be accessible for people with disabilities, Nike is working with a major professional athlete to prove that inclusive styles are meant for everyone.
The athletic-wear giant said it’s rolling out the latest incarnation in its FlyEase lineup — which features easy entry and exit and other accessibility features — this fall. The shoe, called the Nike Air Zoom UNVRS, utilizes a new system to ensure that a broad base of people can independently take it on and off.
But while the shoe will ultimately be available for purchase, its debut will come on the feet of Elena Delle Donne, a star forward for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics and an Olympic gold medalist.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
Delle Donne worked with Nike to create the shoe using insight from her sister, Lizzie, who has cerebral palsy and autism and is also deaf and blind.
“I wanted to show that a professional athlete can wear it,” Delle Donne said. “Male, female, adult, people with disabilities — this shoe is going to work.”
The Nike Air Zoom UNVRS features a magnetized heal that folds down so that the wearer can slide their feet in and out without using hands, the company said. An articulated strap allows the shoe to be secured with one hand.
Nike initially launched FlyEase in 2015 after hearing from a teenager with cerebral palsy who wanted a shoe he could put on independently. The original FlyEase design relied on a wrap-around zipper to fasten the shoe and included a larger opening at the back to make it simpler to slide feet in and out. The company has continued to modify the Flyease system since then.
The new FlyEase shoe will be available in November, Nike said.