At April 30, Nike released its Go FlyEase shoes, priced at $ 120. Nike only released the shoes for a limited time and declined to disclose how many pairs would be available when they were first delivered. The shoes quickly sold out and are no longer available for purchase on the Nike website. But resale websites have them in stock – priced at over $ 300 in some cases. A TIC Tac went viral to explain the implications of this for people with disabilities. The marketing dissonance between this shoe aimed at people with disabilities while still being available to the general public has posed problems. Nike must resolve these issues before the next shipment of Go FlyEase shoes.
Go FlyEase shoes do not require the use of the hands to put on the shoe. The shoe uses a tension band and a bistable hinge to hold it in position. The wearer must then “descend onto the“ diving board ”to click into the locked position. To remove them, they have to walk “on the ‘crutch’ on the heel.” Nike’s video demonstrating how these features work makes the Go FlyEase shoe ideal for people with disabilities, especially those with limited hand and foot mobility. They also allow people with disabilities to put on their shoes without the assistance of a caregiver.
Some people with disabilities have felt different because of their special medical shoes. This shoe will therefore help to alleviate that feeling. Shelby Hintze, KSL producer and fashion columnist for Beehive Spirit, spoke about this issue in an interview. She has used a wheelchair all her life and said, “Often things designed for people with disabilities are ugly and of medical grade. She also said, “It’s hard when you have to buy something different or someone else isn’t wearing, just because it’s accessible.” But in the case of the Go FlyEase shoes, Nike has created something “really cool and designed to be accessible”.
Nevertheless, Nike designed a shoe designed to be accessible. But as Hintze said, it’s “out of the reach of people with disabilities.” Others want to buy the shoe because it’s cool and there’s nothing stopping them from doing so, which creates dissonance among target consumers. People with disabilities never had the first access to the shoe, even if they needed it most. Now those same people have to buy it at exorbitant prices from resellers, perpetuating a nefarious rhetoric of merchandising accessible items.
Hintze said people often describe his wheelchair accessible van as “cool,” even if it’s just his car. People who have never seen it before find it different, but “it should just be part of everyday life,” Hintze said. Accessibility conflicts with sneaker culture further complicate this problem. Hintze said sneaker culture is “all about cool novelty and limited edition… but let’s make them as widely available as possible.”
Obviously, Nike needs to avoid this situation in the future by prioritizing people with disabilities on their next drop. For starters, they could change the shoe from a limited stock to a continuous stock or even reserve a certain amount for people with disabilities. But as Hintze said, the company shouldn’t complicate matters by requiring such a requirement or qualification. Nike helped erase disability by designing a shoe that was intentionally accessible, but doing nothing to give it to those who would benefit from its accessibility features. This ableist attitude is compounded by Nike’s failure to mention that the design was brainstorming by a teenager with cerebral palsy.
Although Nike made a big mistake, they also made strides towards standardizing accessible fashion. The popularity of this shoe could prompt Adidas, Puma, and other shoe brands to do the same. The Go FlyEase is a step towards treating people with disabilities as fashion customers. There is nothing wrong with accepting that the shoe’s intentional accessibility features are aimed at people with disabilities. Disability must be recognized for substantial social change to be achieved. To have an accessible future, we must stop erasing disability. Let’s standardize Nike Go FlyEase shoes and accessible fashion in general.