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Monday, April 12, 2021

A letter written to Nike in 2012 inspired its first hands-free sneaker

The inspiration for the sneaker, Nike Go FlyEase -- an "accessible and empowering design" -- came from a letter written to the company in 2012.  

Nike has unveiled the Nike Go FlyEase — its very first completely hands-free sneaker, which is an easy-entry footwear system designed by Tobie Hatfield that was launched in 2015. 

Nike has been known to experiment with a variety of no-lace solutions over the last half decade. These included Velcro. zippers and cable dials.

However, the inspiration for the sneaker, Nike Go FlyEase — an “accessible and empowering design” — came from a letter written to the company in 2012.  

In the year 2012, a 16-year-old boy with Cerebral Palsy contacted Nike. The boy, Matthew Walzer, told them that it was his dream to go to college without being dependent on someone for trying his shoelaces every day. Walzer was born two months premature, with under-developed lungs that led to Cerebral Palsy, as per Nike. Although he overcame various physical obstacles, he had no option but to depend on someone to tie his shoelaces.

“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,” Matthew Walzer wrote.

Inspired by the tee’s letter, Tobie Hatfield decided to create a shoe that would address his need. Nike delivered a Hatfield design to Mr Walzer in 2012 for wear testing, reported NDTV.

Hatfield, at the same time, did not stop working to design shoes for other people with special needs.

All this led to its most innovative design to date — the Nike FlyEase. These are a range of no-lace footwear launched in 2015 that on Monday, February 2,  introduced Nike Go FlyEase.

“Your talented team of designers has thoughtfully created a shoe that, for the first time in my life, I can put on myself. When I put the shoes on every morning, they give the greatest sense of independence and accomplishment I have ever felt in my life,” said Walzer at the time.

Netizens have showered praises on Nike after the story behind the development of this sneaker surfaced on social media. 

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