Recently, I published a story for Dorkaholics covering a new pair of Nike shoes that are designed to assist people with physical disabilities. However, this article prompted some questions about just how accessible these new shoes are after all.
For those unaware, the Nike Go FlyEase shoes are the latest in the company’s new line of accessible footwear. They are designed to be put on and taken off completely hands-free, without any laces, zippers, or fastening.This is intended to help people who can’t easily bend over or otherwise put shoes on using their hands, and many could benefit- including the elderly, those with waist or back pain, or people with injured hands. The shoes are currently unreleased, except for a limited members-only release on the Nike website, and are set to be released on March 19 for $120.
Despite the shoes currently being, for the most part, unreleased, pairs have already been popping up on open marketplaces like StockX. Prices have more than quadrupled, and all of the three colorways currently on the market are going for over $500. The rare nature of the shoes, their high price, exclusivity, and the general sense that they are hard to get have raised some concerns with people who actually medically need them. After all, how can a shoe be accessible when only in-the-know Nike members can buy them, and when so many Nike releases are “botted”?
Cooper and Gabriel Riazi, a couple from Akron, Ohio, are some who are concerned about the way that Nike is releasing their technology. Cooper has had medical issues for years, and he says that these shoes could be revolutionary, but that Nike is limiting them with their business model.
“It could help millions of people,” says Riazi. “It changes everything. But unfortunately, I’m unable to be guaranteed a pair, and millions of people are guaranteed not to get a pair because people who don’t medically need them are getting first dibs. It’ll be open to the whole public.”
The Riazi’s said that they had contacted Nike previously about this topic and that the spokesperson they talked to had been receiving similar concerned calls before. In fact, Gabriel said that the Nike agent told them a story about a daughter who had called previously about her father who very much needed a pair. He had some kind of physical disability, and the daughter was shocked that he wouldn’t be able to buy them. The concerns were so emotional to the Nike agent that she was brought to tears.
Despite this humanizing interaction with a Nike employee, Cooper said that he didn’t believe that Nike is taking the criticism of their sales model seriously.
“I don’t believe that there will be enough people going and raising concerns about this issue,” said Riazi. “So no, I don’t think they’re going to take it seriously, because there won’t be enough people to give them a reason to take it seriously.”
Both of the Riazi’s suggested that Nike should ensure that those who need the shoes get them on their feet first.
“All we’re asking for is to be able to buy the shoes,” said Riazi. “That’s all we want. We downloaded the app, we signed up for the mailing list, we’re everything they (Nike) want us to be. Just let us buy the shoe in a size 13, and let everybody else buy them too, because it’s not just about Cooper, it’s about everybody. ”
To sum up his thoughts, Gabriel had this to say about the Nike Go FlyEase: “It’s the most accessible shoe ever created, that is the least accessible shoe ever created.”
Seems just a bit hypocritical on Nike’s part, no?