Sometimes major shoe evolutions stem from gimmicks. Brands concoct something fun, colorful, and easily digested—peddling it out to be gobbled up by the masses. But you can’t eat Fruity Pebbles every day. You need variety and sustenance. High-tech running shoes became Nike‘s bread and butter. But their newest innovation, GO FlyEase, is a show-stopping accompaniment you want on your table—sorry, feet. It’s a hands-free shoe that brings accessibility and inclusiveness to the forefront.
What It Is
The GO FlyEase’s patent-pending design has some fascinating specs inspired by architecture. The shoe centers on a bi-stable hinge that was actually the product of an internal design contest. When the shoe is in the open or “ready” position, as design lead Sarah Reinersten likes to call it, the hinge peaks like a drawbridge, splaying the shoe and inviting you to step right in. It doesn’t bisect the shoe. The continuous footbed—or as Nike’s coined it, the “diving board”—is unperturbed by this mechanism. When you slide your foot in and push down, that weight encourages the hinge into the “set” position. Once down, the tensioner band running around the exterior helps snap and keep the shoe in position, doing double duty as a sort of midsole. Now you’re ready to go.
They’ve also capitalized on an intuitive behavior that’s usually horrible for shoes: Using the toe of one foot to tug off the other shoe by its heel. The Swoosh created a kickstand heel meant to withstand that bad habit in a way that doesn’t compromise the integrity of the shoe. The outsole and other exterior components comprise Nike Grind, an upcycled material made of foam, rubber, thermoplastics, and more that’s been treated to withstand UV exposure.
Why We Like It
It’s a remarkable innovation, and it serves myriad purposes for people with disabilities as well as able-bodied individuals. Women who are pregnant. Pet owners who need to take their hyperactive dog on a walk at 6 a.m. Parents running kids to play dates, school, and extracurricular activities. City dwellers who need to kick their shoes off at the door while schlepping five grocery bags up their four-floor walkup. Anyone coping with an acute injury, like a broken arm or hand. It just makes sense. Are you going to run a marathon in these? No. Are you going to chase a bus, your kid, or your dog in these? Yes.
Obviously laces and BOA closures refine the fit of a shoe. They accommodate exceptionally wide or narrow feet. While we were pleasantly surprised by the give of the upper, you might not get a super personalized fit. But since this is more a lifestyle shoe than a trainer, it’s not a deal breaker. Nike GO FlyEase will be available to select Nike members Feb. 15 with a bigger rollout coming this spring.
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