Nike targets inclusivity with hands-free shoe investment
Nike has announced a strategic investment in and exclusive intellectual property licensing partnership with Handsfree Labs, Inc., a company dedicated to step-in footwear technology. The amount of the investment was not disclosed.
Handsfree, a tech company based in Vineyard, Utah, focuses on making shoes that wearers can easily step in and out of without lacing or the use of hands. The partnership between the two companies includes an intellectual property license, and is set to extend the reach of HandsFree Labs' portfolio of hands-free Foot Activated Shoe Technology (F.A.S.T.) solutions.
The partnership is set to boost Nike’s current offering of shoes that are made to be easy to put on, offered under the Nike Flyease line. Launching its first shoe in 2015, Flyease is targeted at athletes who struggle to put on standard athletic shoes, including disabled athletes.
“Our partnership with Handsfree builds on Nike’s leadership in using innovative technology to meet consumer needs,” said Tom Clarke, Nike’s president of innovation.
“Our Nike FlyEase platform is aimed at providing greater access to sport for all athletes, and we believe Handsfree’s ‘easy on and off’ technology has the potential to broaden and enhance this effort by removing barriers to play and making sport easier for more people.”
“Handsfree Labs is passionate about bringing the comfort and convenience of hands-free shoes to everyone, and our partnership with Nike accelerates this vision,” added Mike Pratt, founder and CEO of Handsfree Labs. “With Nike, we are reinventing the way people put on shoes, and we are proud to introduce the world to this significant footwear advancement.”
Currently, HandsFree Labs operates a portfolio that includes Kizik, a brand of hands-free casual, dress and outdoor shoes. The company plans to launch a new brand of athleisure footwear, Pilar, in 2020.
In addition to its investment from and licensing partnership with Nike, HandsFree Labs said it plans to roll out its technology through licensing deals with other footwear categories and manufacturers.
The newly announced partnership comes after Nike partnered with NFL player Shaquem Griffin, who has excelled in his athletic career despite having lost his left hand in childhood, for its first easy-entry football cleat earlier this month.
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