One thing that all shoe manufacturers have in common is that their products, no matter the brand,
shape, style, size or colour, all need your hands to put them on.
It might seem an intrinsic feature of shoes, but thanks to a letter from a sneakerhead with cerebral
palsy, Nike has developed and about to launch a completely hands-free sneaker, according to
In 2012, 16-year-old Matthew Walzser, who was born with cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects
some of his motor skills, was looking for independence when he went to college.
“My dream is to go to the college of my choice without having to worry about someone coming to
tie my shoes every day,” he wrote in a letter to Nike. "I've worn Nike basketball shoes all my life. I
can only wear this type of shoe because I need ankle support to walk.”
He added that while he is completely able to dress himself, her still needed assistance to tie his
“As a teenager who is striving to become totally self-sufficient, I find this extremely frustrating and,
at times, embarrassing.”
Matthew’s letter was noticed by Tobie Hatfield, brother of legendary Nike designer Tinker Hatfield,
who then began working with Matthew on a prototype shoe, who by the end of 2012 had a pair of
custom Nikes that he could put on and take off without assistance.
“When I put the shoes on every morning, they give the greatest sense of independence and
accomplishment I have ever felt in my life,” Matthew told Nike.
From there, Hatfield and his team continued to develop the shoes, and released the FlyEase in
2015, a sneaker with a zip a strap closure that makes them easier for people with limited mobility
to put on and take off.
Continue to work on the shoe, Nike has taken the design to the next level with the soon-to-be-
released completely hands-free sneaker, the GO FlyEase.
Nike's GO FlyEase doesn't have any zips, straps, or laces, but it does have a ‘kickstand’, a
‘tensioner', and a ‘diving board’. The Nike takes the usually 1-piece outsole and splits it in half to
form front and back sections that are connected by a hinge.
At the back of the heel, the company added a little ledge, the ‘kickstand’, and when stepped on
with the toes of the opposite foot, the GO FlyEase oops open at the hinge.
A band that swings from one side of the shoe, around the heel, and back to the other side, the
‘tensioner’, holds the shoe in this open position so you can slide your foot out.
The diving board is the part of the sneaker that touches the bottom of your foot (the insole). Nike
left that in one piece, so when the shoe is in the open position, there's a wedge-shaped gap
between the diving board and the kickstand.
When you want to put the shoes on, you just step into them and press your foot down on the diving
board. The tensioner then pulls the kickstand up around your heel and holds it in place.
The journey to the GO FlyEase began with a call for great accessibility, but the hands-free sneaker
isn't exclusively for people who have trouble tying laces — they could appeal to anyone who likes
the look of sneakers but the ease of slip-ons.
Are you looking for rare Nike men's trainers in the UK? Visit our online store today.
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