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Nike’s Latest Sneaker Marks Big Step Forward for Differently Abled Athletes

Featured for the first time in its very own silhouette, Nike’s innovative Flyease fastening system is getting a wide release—big news for differently abled consumers who have waited long years to be represented in mainstream sneaker culture.

The Nike Zoom UNVRS will be the first silhouette designed by Nike from the ground up to feature Flyease and will come with an endorsement from Elena Dell Donne, an Olympic gold medalist and WNBA star.

For Donne, it was an opportunity to support her sister, who is disabled, by showing that anyone—even a world-class athlete—would want to wear these sneakers.

“I wanted to show that a professional athlete can wear it,” Donne said in a statement. “Male, female, adult, people with disabilities—this shoe is going to work.”

Flyease was conceived as the brand’s response to the feedback it received from its work with disabled athletes. Informed by that research, Flyease designers worked under three core principles: the technology would be easy to open and close, easy to put on and able to accommodate a wide variety of foot shapes and sizes.

Nike's flyease fastening technology's first wide release
The UNVRS features an adjustable strap that can be customized to fit several different methods of fastening. Nike

Nike suggested that future Flyease products may come in a variety of different styles, with each suited for different needs—as long as they fit into one of the three criteria.

“Nike FlyEase footwear starts with a clear design philosophy: take insights and inspiration from athletes with disabilities to create smarter and better-designed footwear that works for athletes of all abilities,” the brand said in a statement.

For the UNVRS, its Flyease designation means it comes with a magnetized heel that can fold down and connect with the midsole of the shoe. In effect, this removes the back half of the sneaker so its wearer can insert their foot from the rear without needing to use their hands or fit into the relatively small opening at the top of the sneaker.

The articulated strap also engages the “Flywire” cables located in the midfoot area, allowing for tightening and fitting with just two, one-handed motions. Additionally, the UNVRS will feature a full-length Air Zoom cushioning system and will be constructed of the same Flyknit upper material as the Nike Alphadunk—a silhouette designed to provide the maximum levels durability required in professional basketball.

“The technology is an example of how, by designing more inclusively, Nike is creating solutions that benefit everyone,” the brand explained.

Although there is not yet an exact release date for the UNVRS, Nike said the style should be available in November.