Foot Locker is marking Autism Acceptance Month this week with the release of two new sneakers from Puma and Diadora.
The footwear retailer partnered with actor, writer and comedian Ron Funches, known for a voice role in the “Trolls” film, to release the adaptive Puma Clyde sneaker raising awareness of autism spectrum disorders, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says affects 1 in 54 children in the U.S. The shoe includes several nods to Funches’ son, including lime green touches—his favorite color—and a noise-canceling headphones graphic on the back heel. The footwear also features adaptive laces.
The Puma Clyde x Ron Funches, priced at $150, dropped Wednesday. Foot Locker and Puma will each donate $10,000 to the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, the athletic chain said.
“I am excited and humbled to promote autism acceptance and to celebrate all the things my son has taught me,” Funches said in a statement. “Thank you, Puma and Foot Locker, for making a dream come true.”
Foot Locker also teamed up with artist Sarath Ton to release a custom version of Diadora’s N9002 sneaker. The black-and-white shoe features a colorful puzzle-piece design on the back heel, as well as shock absorption tech.
The Diadora x Sarath Autism Awareness N9002 debuted Tuesday on Foot Locker, Foot Action and Champs Sports’ websites. Foot Locker and Diadora plan to donate $10,000 from the sale of the $175 sneaker to Autism Speaks.
“This Diadora and Foot Locker, Inc. autism collaboration is something very important to me,” Ton said in a statement. “It’s dedicated to not only all of the families who include a member who is on the spectrum, but to my brother-in-law Joshua who is autistic. Seeing the energy and love he brings to life is an inspiration to me. His genuine happiness for the little things, whether it be his love for movies and fast food, or talking about girls and singing his favorite songs, is something I try to fold into my everyday life.”
Zappos pledges to help brands expand adaptive selection
Foot Locker’s pair of Autism Acceptance Month releases coincide with news that Zappos.com has joined the Valuable 500. The move places the e-commerce company within a coalition of national and international companies pledging to drive change for those living with disabilities. The initiative has gained hundreds of members so far, including Calvin Klein, Burberry and Deckers Brands.
“We’ve been passionate about Zappos Adaptive, our curated shopping experience made-up of functional, fashionable products to make life easier for the disability community, since its launch in 2017, but we know there is more work to do,” Kedar Deshpande, Zappos CEO, said in a statement. “Diversity and individuality are central to our company’s core values and we’re humbled to be a part of like-minded organizations dedicated to making the world a better and more equitable place.”
As part of its pledge, Zappos committed to working alongside brand partners to help them develop adaptive products or discover adaptations to existing styles that allow for more accessibility. It said it will do this by collaborating “side-by-side” with brands and hosting focus groups with a diverse group of people with disabilities to receive first-hand feedback.
Working with brands on adaptive products, however, is nothing new for Zappos. The e-commerce site teamed up with Ugg last fall to launch two new shoes built for accessibility.
The adaptive boots, built using Ugg’s popular short boot and lace-up Neumel chukka silhouettes, include several discreet features that make them easier to take on and off. The updates range from oversized zippers and rear pull tabs to stretchy, toggle-adjustable laces that eliminate the need for tying.