Innovation and inspiration at Nike often start with the simple act of listening to the voice of the athlete. If you have a body, you’re an athlete, which means insights may come from professionals, but they also arrive from unexpected places.
A young man by the name of Matthew Walzer overcame many of the physical limitations doctors predicted for him during his life, but tying his shoes remained a challenge, as he only has flexibility in one hand due to Cerebral Palsy. As a big fan of LeBron James and Nike sneakers, Walzer penned this open letter to Mark Parker.
“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 open letter eventually landed in the head offices of Nike and Mark Parker decided to act upon Walzers request with the help of Tinker Hatfield's brother, Tobie. Conceptualized in 2012 and brought to fruition in 2015, Nike and Walzer together were able to create FLYEASE.
FLYEASE introduces a wrap-around zipper solution that opens the back of the shoe near the heel-counter, making it easier to slide the foot in and out. At the same time, the system provides sufficient lockdown and eliminates the need to tie traditional laces.
The first sneaker to feature this new technology will be the Nike LeBron Zoom Soldier 8 FLYEASE which releases on July 18th in limited quanitites. For more information on FLYEASE, visit Nike.com.