Roughly one year ago, we showed you the “Flyease” technology that will allow for easier use of LeBron James’ signature sneakers. This time around, Nike has taken that same technology and applied it to the very shoe James wore when he helped Cleveland win its first championship in 52 years. Announced on Monday morning, Nike will add Flyease to the laceless Soldier 10 to allow for easier entry into a shoe that was already a tougher sell for individuals with wider feet.
“One of the key learnings we’ve had in crafting accessible footwear is the importance of easy entry and exit of the shoe, not just simplifying its fastening system,” says Tobie (“Tinker”) Hatfield, Nike Senior Director of Athlete Innovation. “Eliminating the intricate hand movement of lace tying is important, but if the athlete cannot get their foot into the shoe, lacing becomes a moot point.”
Working closely with athletes of all abilities, Hatfield and his team reimagined the Soldier 10 as a shoe that opens up from the midfoot, all the way through the heel counter. Once zipped, the shoe’s original Velcro straps — with the same powerful grade of adhesion used to keep LeBron James’s foot contained — envelope the foot and provide a secure, adjustable lockdown to maximize fit and comfort.
“It looks just like the traditional Soldier 10,” continues Hatfield, “but with a far more generous opening for the foot. Of all the shoes we’ve ever made, this may be the easiest one to get into.”
LeBron James has served as a supportive ambassador for FlyEase since its inception. “It’s about us empowering every kid and everybody to understand that we are all athletes,” he says. “For myself and Nike to be able to collaborate on a project like this has been special since the very first time it was brought to the table.”
Much like the Flyease Soldier 8, the sneaker is entirely one piece, but has panels that detach through an internal zipper mechanism. In the case of the Soldier 10, this zipper rolls around the back of the heal, allowing the entire shoe to open up for a vastly improved entry point.
Subtle graphic hits, a small asterisk, appear on the heel, heel tabs and on the Velcro under the ankle strap. These nod to the asterisk that appears next to the word “athlete” in Nike’s mission statement and references Nike’s belief that “if you have a body, you’re an athlete.”
As ambassador of both the footwear technology and serving as Nike Basketball’s top-selling athlete, James invited patients from Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital for Rehabilitation to the Cleveland Cavaliers practice facility in Independence where the group connected while showing the advantages of the FlyEase in his shoe, which benefits athletes of all abilities and ages.
James famously saw a Boston Celtics fan wearing his Flyease shoes during a game last season and took time during a timeout to greet the young man. Following the game, James gave him his game-worn sneakers.
The LeBron Soldier 10 FlyEase arrives in both adult and young athlete (Black/Blue/White colorways) sizes on March 20 from Nike.com. Adult sizes in the Platinum colorway will be available in the coming weeks from Nike.com.