The Nike ACG Gaiadome FlyEase Boot will not be available at retail

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For the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, Nike announced on Friday that it has designed inclusive and accessible gear for Team USA Olympians and Paralympians to wear at the medal stand. This includes the new ACG Gaiadome FlyEase boot, which can be put on and secured with one hand. The only problem is that it also seems to have inherited FlyEase’s limited availability. While the rest of the fit will be available for purchase, the Gaiadome boot will be an athlete exclusive.

“For the official look of the Team USA medal stand in Beijing, we worked closely with the disability community, including current and former Winter and Summer Paralympians, in our design process. and testing, and have used inclusive design principles and methods to create gear that ensures every athlete who competes feels supported in style from start to finish,” Nike said in a press release.

Overall, this translates to an outfit that can be easily worn by those with limited dexterity. For example, the jackets include magnetic closures, oversized zipper pulls and fish trap pockets. Meanwhile, the ACG Dri-Fit ADV Trail Pants have a quick-release magnetic buckle. For the ACG Gaiadome boot, the design features a rear zip entry and toggle laces.

The Gaiadome FlyEase boot has a similar design philosophy to the $120 Go FlyEase, which Nike introduced last year. These sneakers featured a “bistable hinge” that allowed a person to put on and take off the shoe hands-free. While the FlyEase’s accessible design was widely praised, Nike was heavily criticized for the way it handled the launch. Limited inventory and hype created a resale market around the shoes, driving prices to $400. The problem gone viral on social media, and some accused Nike of using disability as a marketing system without ensuring access to those who would benefit most from the sneakers.

It is therefore curious that Nike has decided to make the Gaiadome FlyEase boot an exclusive for athletes. This isn’t the first time Nike has made shoes accessible to Olympic athletes, which later became available to consumers. For the Tokyo Summer Games last year, Nike introduced the Glide FlyEase. Instead of the innovative hinge, they featured a flexible heel that clicked into place once a person stepped into the shoe. The Go FlyEase and Glide FlyEase are both available at retail. The edge asked Nike why the Gaiadome FlyEase Boot would be an athlete exclusive, but did not immediately receive a response.

In an ideal world, accessible design would be the default because it benefits everyone. Boots are often difficult, even for able-bodied people who make full use of their hands. It’s understandable that Nike wants to avoid further controversy, but hopefully we’ll see the Gaiadome FlyEase boot design integrated on future shoes that are available to the public – and not in limited quantities.

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