Zappos is looking to make the outdoors more accessible to people with disabilities through a new program under its Zappos Adaptive shopping platform.
“Zappos Adaptive launched its Single and Different Size Shoes Program in the summer of 2020 to give people the opportunity to buy a single shoe or two different sizes, depending on their needs,” said Dana Zumbo, business development manager of Zappos Adaptive.
Shoes in the program are available for a range of customers, from toddlers to adults, and generally cost between $17 and $85. Merrell, Nike, Converse, New Balance, and Brooks were some of the first outdoor and athletic brands to sign on with the initiative, followed soon after by KEEN.
“We’re thrilled that like-minded brand partners have also been proactively reaching out, expressing interest in being included in the program,” said Zumbo.
How the program started
The Zappos Adaptive shopping platform launched in 2017 after a Zappos employee took a call from a customer who needed a special pair of shows for her son with autism. The employee couldn’t find the sneakers the boy needed, and was so shaken by letting the woman down that he engaged in months of research to to create a team within Zappos to source functional and fashionable clothing and shoes for people with disabilities.
Under the umbrella of that platform, the Single and Different Size Shoes program was born two years later, in 2019, after Zappos polled customers from the disability community about new initiatives that could help everyone get the shoes they need. The company declined to say how many single shoes have sold through the program thus far.
For pro athlete and DEI strategist Vasu Sojitra, the program is a game changer.
“There was never a program like this while I was growing up,” said Sojitra. “I see the Zappos Single and Different Size Shoe Program being beneficial to athletes and outdoor enthusiasts with physical disabilities by creating a solution to a major issue we face within the fashion and footwear industry.”
“A lot of people with disabilities are trying to survive in a very ableist world,” Sojitra added. “Statistically, the average income in the U.S. for a person with a disability is approximately $20K, compared to $30K for people without a disability. Everyone needs shoes, so why spend money on items where half of the purchase doesn’t get used?”
Though the program is less than a year old, Zappos anticipates steady expansion.
“With people excited for the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities as we roll into spring and summer, be on the lookout as we continue expanding our outdoor assortment,” Zumbo said.
Until then, Sojitra said the program’s accomplishments thus far are a step in the direction of progress. “It’s another way to showcase representation,” he said. “We need more of that in dissolving preconceived notions and biases.”