Nike released the Zoom Soldier 8 Flyease, a sneaker with a wrap-around zipper that opens at the back of the shoe near the heel counter, making it easier to slide the heel in and out. The shoe is designed for the Nike customer who has some difficulty getting in and out of shoes.
The shoe was designed by Tobie Hatfield, the brother of famed Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, who spent three years trying to develop an entry-and-closure system for consumers that have trouble securing their own shoes.
The concept for the shoe was backed by Nike’s belief that if you have a body, you are an athlete. In designing the shoes, Hatfield tried a variety of prototypes from Velcro to zippers to cable dials.
He found a partner to help him finish the project in Matthew Walzer. Walzer had sent a letter to Nike CEO Mark Parker asking him to develop a shoe with easier access; Walzer has cerebral palsy, which has left one of his hands too stiff for use. After testing different prototypes together, they landed on a design that works.
In late July, Nike is sending the Zoom Soldier 8 FLYEASE to two U.S. basketball teams participating in the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Los Angeles, which will from July 25 to Aug 2. Hatfield and the Nike are working on designs outside of basketball shoes.