The shoe, referred to as Go FlyEase, builds on Nike’s FlyEase applied sciences which were utilized in dozens of its informal, working and basketball sneakers already. But Nike calls this model its “simplest” shoe launched, to this point.
Nike is unveiling its first pair of slip-on sneakers with out laces, hoping to take pleasure in some of the identical momentum that rivals like Crocs and Vans have seen throughout the pandemic, as extra shoppers gravitate towards comfy, no-fuss footwear.
The “Go FlyEase” shoe is marketed as not requiring arms to placed on and take off. The firm stated it was impressed partially by Asian cultures, the place it is customary to take away sneakers earlier than getting into a house. The debut additionally comes at a time when persons are extra acutely aware of not touching soiled surfaces, like the backside of sneakers.
“This shoe really responds to our current-day situation living in these Covid times,” Sarah Reinertsen, supervisor of FlyEase Innovation at Nike, stated in an interview. “This is actually an innovation that has been cooking up in our innovation kitchen for a little while … but it just came out right at the right time, when we needed it more than ever.”
Go FlyEase is a component of Nike’s FlyEase line of working, soccer and basketball sneakers that are stated to be simpler to put on and match toes higher. Nike has been engaged on FlyEase improvements for about 5 years — together with sneakers that zip up the aspect and a pair with a pull-cord at the again to tighten the shoe round the heel.
“We have been using laces for a long time,” Reinertsen stated about Nike’s determination to go with out them. “But … a lot of times [people] are trying to work around those laces, they’re trying to use one foot to anchor the shoe and slip out. Laces are kind of a hassle. We wanted to make shoes easier for everybody.”
These look nothing like a pair of rubber Crocs, although, if that is what you had in thoughts. For a slip-on shoe, Nike’s model is kind of distinctive and sophisticated. When it is not being worn, the Go FlyEase sits in an open place. A separate foot-bed platform, indifferent from the base of the shoe, strikes up and down, due to a hinge that is constructed into the backside.
Nike stated it plans to construct on the new Go FlyEase shoe’s design and create extra slip-on choices in the future.
A band wraps round the prime of the shoe, and snaps into place as soon as the foot is inside, since there are no laces to assist with tightening. The largest situation with slip-on sneakers, for a lot of shoppers, tends to be getting them to suit tight sufficient round the foot.
There can be a “kickstand” on the heel to assist take the shoe off. Reinertsen stated many individuals already intuitively step on the again of their shoe to take away it.
According to Reinertsen, Nike’s latest shoe is not meant for endurance sports activities, however extra for informal actions like strolling. She stated Nike plan to construct on the Go FlyEase design and create extra slip-on sneakers. The additions may assist Nike place itself as not solely a model for athletics, however for on a regular basis actions.
The new sneakers might be obtainable to pick Nike members in its largest markets at a retail worth of $120, beginning Feb. 15. Later, the sneakers might be offered extra broadly.
The phased launch permits Nike’s most loyal prospects to have preliminary entry, with the hope that extra folks will be part of its free membership program, which additionally gives exercise lessons and podcasts. In constructing membership, Nike is ready to be taught extra about its prospects and goal them with merchandise that higher suits their lively life.
At the second, comfort is a precedence for shoppers. Many are nonetheless working from house and in search of a straightforward shoe to put on round the home or to run errands. Many persons are additionally spending extra time outdoor and prioritizing taking breaks for bodily actions, like strolling the neighborhood.
Brands that promote slip-on sneakers like Crocs, Athletic Propulsion Labs, Allbirds and VF Corp.’s Vans have been extra widespread in latest months. Shoppers have more and more shunned high-heels and oxfords, and put their cash towards sensible attire and footwear.
“Everyone is looking for comfort … something easy,” stated Matt Powell, a senior sports activities business analyst at the New York-based analysis agency NPD Group. “Clearly athletic footwear is outperforming fashion. … Sports slides also did extremely well this [past] year.”
A stress band snaps to assist maintain the Go FlyEase shoe closed, since there are no laces for tightening.
In 2020, gross sales of slip-on sneakers in the U.S. declined 2% yr over yr. While a drop, that was nonetheless higher than sneaker gross sales general, which fell 6%, Powell stated.
Crocs, as soon as shunned by the vogue business, has been an unbelievable beneficiary of the comfort trend. In the third quarter, Crocs’ income climbed 16% from a yr earlier to a document $362 million. In January, Crocs raised its holiday-quarter outlook and stated it expects gross sales in 2021 to speed up as a lot as 25%. Its shares are up greater than 78% from a yr in the past, pushing its market worth to $4.73 billion.
While Nike has additionally been seen as a winner throughout the coronavirus pandemic, it is all the time in search of new pockets of progress. During its fiscal second quarter, which ended Nov. 30, Nike’s income grew 9% yr over yr to hit $11.24 billion. Its digital gross sales drove that progress, climbing 84%, as extra of its prospects stayed put at house and shopped on-line. The firm has stated it expects its income in fiscal 2021 to rise at a low-teens proportion.
Nike shares are up greater than 36% over the previous 12 months, bringing its market worth to $210.6 billion.
Starting Feb. 15, the new sneakers, which retail for $120, might be obtainable to pick Nike members in North America, Japan, and its Europe, Middle East and Africa area, they usually’ll be obtainable extra broadly in the coming months, the firm stated.
NPD Group estimates the athletic footwear and activewear markets will develop gross sales in the low single-digits this yr, which might be above 2020 ranges, however nonetheless beneath 2019. NPD’s Powell expects efficiency working and mountain climbing will lead gross sales, with comfort remaining a key theme.
—CNBC’s Jess Golden contributed to this reporting.