Nike introduces Flyease

Nike gets 5 stars for this one.

Today marks the release of the Nike Flyease - a new kind of shoe, and the first time I can remember being impressed by a shoe company doing something good. Really good. Something which will impact people's lives in a meaningful way.

Check out the full story on Huffington Post - the fact that a high school student with cerebral palsy helped to initiate the project, and then become part of it, is simply awesome.

I've always loved Nike's slogans and marketing pieces, but I've been critical of Nike (the company) for years.

I don't like that they changed (created) the running shoe industry into what it is today, brainwashing people into believing they need expensive hi-tech running shoes in order to run properly, when the company doesn't have a single study showing this to be true.

I don't like that they changed the common expectation that sports shoes should cost well over $100 per pair. Once Air Jordans gained momentum in the 1980s, the price tags moved up permanently.

And I don't like that over the last few years, as there's been push-back from the running community towards more minimalist shoes, Nike has responded by offering a running shoe which they marketed along the lines of "as close to being barefoot as possible", for $140. Last time I checked, my bare feet didn't cost that much.

Today, with the release of the Flyease, I'm standing in Nike's corner.

Teenagers and young adults with special needs (and their parents) face challenges every day from things you wouldn't even think about. A person may be smart, motivated, friendly, and have a lot to offer the world, but if that person's fingers don't work as well as yours and mine, he'll have to make choices:
  • Do I wear the elastic waist pants that I can pull up and down by myself, because independence is a big deal? Or do I wear the "normal" pants (and need help with the button and zipper), because looking different from everybody else sucks?
  • Do I wear slip-on shoes so I can be independent? Or should I wear "regular" sneakers like all the other kids, except I can't tie them myself?
  • And on and on. People want to fit in with their friends and peers, regardless of the challenges they face.

Nike is working to give people shoes that can be both - cool shoes like everyone else is wearing that are also easy to open and close. Kudos to Nike.

Hopefully I'll be able to pick up a pair online this morning for my son before they sell out. Wish me luck..

- Chris Butterworth