“I’ll never forget that night, taking them out of the box and putting them on,” he says in the video. “I just felt this wave of independence that I never got to experienced before.”

But Hatfield didn’t just want a one-off, and he used the opportunity to make a product that Nike could scale for mass production. He and Walzer collaborated on developing the sneaker for three years, sending samples back and forth to constantly refine the shoe.

The result is the Flyease, which features an innovative zipper closure that unwraps like an orange peel, while being easy to secure and offering the ankle support that athletes—of all abilities—need.

Flyease Zoom Soldier 8
Peel them like an orange.
Image: Nike

The design is smart, and the zipper system is attractive in a way that could make it appealing to customers beyond just those who need it. And while Nike isn’t the first company trying to make the routine of dressing simpler for people with disabilities—MagnaReady, for instance, offers dress shirts with magnetic closures for exactly this reason—it’s probably the biggest and most recognized brand to do so.

That’s good, because more than 50 million Americans live with disabilities—to say nothing of the number worldwide—and many of them participate in athletic or fitness activities. It’s an underserved market.

The new shoe resonates with a line from the company’s original mission statement: In the words of Bill Bowerman, the company’s co-founder and creator of its first sneakers: “If you have a body, you’re an athlete.”

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