A while ago we were delighted to share the news on our socials that Nike had paired up with Matthew, a young teenager with cerebral palsy, to create the first shoes that are hands-free. Now we got even more details into the story.
Who is Matthew Walzer, the guy who inspired Nike to create the FlyEase shoes?
From the publishing Today we found out that Matthew Walzer, 25, wrote a letter to Nike detailing his condition, the fact that he finds it hard to walk, tie his shoes, but also telling the team how he loves wearing Nike basketball shoes as they were the only ones who offered him ankle support.
Matthew wrote in his letter:
“It really started to bother me especially because the further you get in high school, you’re thinking about the future,” Walzer, 25, of Southwestern Florida, told TODAY. “How am I going to ever live on my own and be independent if I have to worry about my parents coming to tie my shoes every day … No one wants to feel weighed down by something as simple for most people as tying their shoes.”
Walzer sent that letter for him and for everyone else who has a disability and finds it difficult to find shoes that are easy to wear. He then went on and collaborated on the design with Nike during 3 years, until the FlyEase shoes were born. He is an example of how young people can succeed in bringing a message further to companies which can actually do something on the matter.
The FlyEase shoe, that you can step in and out of without using your hands
When you think of clothing or shoes for people with disabilities that are easily wearable and that don’t need assistance for others, there aren’t a lot of brands that come to mind.We can name a few: FFORA(Fashion For All), Reboundwear, Intimately.co), but there is certainly a lot of space in this niche.
Nike stepped into the light with the FlyEase shoes that everyone got really hyped about, including people who just loved its design. Hopefully more and more brands will in the future take into consideration the needs of people with disabilities and include in their designs easy to wear and easy to put on clothing and shoes.
But how does the FlyEase shoes work? Apparently, behind the shoe’s super smooth motion is a bi-stable hinge that enables it to be secured in open and closed positions. It also has a tensioner that allows you to easily kick off a shoe. Amazing right?
A lot of People Blame Nike for Using Disability in their Marketing and PR
Of course, in the media and PR world, any good act can be looked at from different angles. In the case of Nike and the cerebral palsy shoes, the company has recently been accused of using disability to promote itself.
On Inputmag, Nike is accused of making them accessible and then inaccessible by making a limited supply. Resellers have now upped their prices from the $120 model to $2000. Is this okay or not ok?
Some people are afraid that they’re selling using disability and actually not giving access to those who need it, as we find out in the NPR.org.
While we are yet to see what Nike’s purpose really was, so far so good, they’ve managed to do something well and hopefully there are more lines like this one coming up, as well as other big brands stepping in their shoes, literally…
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