In the footwear category, brands are opening up conversations with people with disabilities or those with unique footwear requirements to better discern and identify ways of enabling a more seamless and inclusive footwear experience.
Nike, for example, explored the needs of disabled consumers during the design stage of the Nike Go FlyEase, its first hands-free trainer. Featuring a bi-stable hinge, the shoe is fully secure in both open and closed positions, and can be removed by applying pressure to a kickstand heel on the opposite foot. This functionality mimics the intuitive action that people often perform while removing their shoes.
Skatewear brand Vans has turned its attention to sensory-inclusive designs to better cater for a diverse range of consumers. For its Autism Awareness Collection in 2020, the brand sought to empower customers of all ages on the autism spectrum, from toddlers to adults. Catering for people with sensitivities to touch and sight, its shoes incorporated heel-pull tags to ensure ease of use, squishy cushioned fabric uppers and holographic panels. The range also incorporates cool, blue calming colour palettes.
While design and fabrics are helping to make footwear more inclusive, so too is fashion retail. In the US, Zappos is now selling single sandals and sneakers, as well as offering an option to buy mixed-size sneakers. The brand has also launched a testing service for shoppers with videos to guide product choices, alongside advice on topics like measuring a prosthesis.
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