Top Trending: Hackers Can Use Subtitles to Infect Your Devices

Teen With Cerebral Palsy Inspires Nike to Design Zip-Around Sneakers for the Disabled

  • ---Shares

With its latest sneaker launch, Nike is once again tapping into its pioneering design pipeline and appealing to the human aspects of athleticism -- a branding strategy that has helped make it the most beloved sportswear brand on the planet.

When the company’s first employee, Jeff Johnson, had a stroke and lost functionality on the right side of his body in 2004, CEO Mark Parker initially began brainstorming about a laceless shoe for easier entry and exit.

After the idea was set into motion, Nike received a letter on social media in 2012 from Matthew Walzer -- a then-16-year-old Florida high school student with cerebral palsy. “Cerebral palsy stiffens the muscles in the body,” Walzer wrote. “As a result I have flexibility in only one of my hands, which makes it impossible for me to tie my shoes.”

Related: Nike's Instagram Videos Have Helped Boost Following by Over 200 Percent

“I started thinking about doors on a hinge,” said Nike design guru Tobie Hatfield of his approach to designing what would ultimately become the Nike Flyease -- a basketball shoe constructed with a zipper around its ankle that can peel away for easier access.

After sending Walzer a prototype in 2012, Hatfield continued to work directly with Walzer to perfect the design, knowing that such a shoe could be helpful to untold masses. And now, Nike is selling the finished product on its website, the $130 Lebron Zoom Soldier VIII Flyease.

What’s more entrepreneurial than tackling a pervasive, unsolved problem through innovative design? “When we say, ‘If you have a body, you’re an athlete,’” Hatfield said, referring to Nike founder Bill Bowerman’s famous quote, “that means everybody.”

Related: This Program Wants to Help People With Disabilities Become Entrepreneurs

Edition: May 2017

Get the Magazine

Limited-Time Offer: 1 Year Print + Digital Edition and 2 Gifts only $9.99
Subscribe Now
OK

This website uses cookies to allow us to see how our website and related online services are being used. By continuing to use this website, you consent to our cookie collection. More information about how we collect cookies is found here.