Adaptive Footwear Is in the Spotlight
Nike’s Hands-Free Shoe
Last month, Nike made news with the release of the Nike FlyEase sneaker, a hands-free shoe designed for the adaptive marketplace, an area of focus that is gaining traction in active/outdoor.
Behind the Nike FlyEase’s smooth ease of entry for the user is a bi-stable hinge that enables the shoe to be secure in fully open and fully closed states. This duality allows another signature detail: the Nike GO FlyEase tensioner. The tensioner’s unique flexibility superchargers an action many might take for granted (kicking-off a shoe) and completely reimagines this movement as the basis for accessible and empowering design.
A Shoe For All: Friendly Shoes
The Excursion Mid is one of several different styles offered by Friendly Shoes, a brand that was founded in 2019 by occupational therapist Joseph DiFrancisco. Friendly Shoes has a range of adaptive footwear for men and women, and a new children’s collection set to arrive right in time for back-to-school.
Described as shoes for all abilities, Friendly Shoes footwear is designed to solve footwear challenges by making fitted shoes simpler and easier to put on, and more enjoyable to wear. The brand uses a patented zipper system to ensure Easy Shoe Access (ESA). And Friendly’s custom outsoles are made to provide safer mobility and independence for all.
The idea behind the brand is that no one should have to sacrifice fashion, comfort, or support for independent mobility needs.
DiFrancisco worked with shoemakers in Brazil to bring his Friendly Shoes to reality. The Excursion Mid, $120, is available in two colorways each for men and women. It has a removable dual density memory foam insole that includes metatarsal and arch support, padded tongue and heel collar, cushioned midsole and slip-resistant outsole, and a toe box that is wider and deeper than traditional athleisure footwear. The shoes can accommodate a variety of AFOs and a discreet, patented rear-zipper design makes donning the shoes a breeze, creating an entry portal that provides a hassle free experience. An easy-to-grasp pull tab on the zipper allows those with low grip strength or visual imparities to slip into these independently and the wearer can simply “set & forget” their laces.