07 August 2020

Last month, Zappos announced that customers could purchase single shoes and mixed-size pairs from the US-based online fashion retailer. At launch, six brands (BILLY Footwear, Converse, Kizik New Balance, Nike, Plae and Stride Rite) were included in the scheme, and shoes were available in sizes ranging from toddler to a women’s 13 or men’s 18. A single shoe costs exactly half the price of a regular pair. The Single and Different Size Shoes Test Program is part of an effort to make footwear more inclusive for customers who wear prosthetics or have different sized feet. Zappos is owned by Amazon.

Zappos’ culture and customer service is the stuff of legend: much of the wisdom imparted by CEO Tony Hsieh wayyyy back in 2010 (!) still rings true. But what can we learn from this particular innovation?

According to Coresight Research, the market for footwear catering to the needs of people with disabilities and specific health conditions is expected to reach USD 10.6 billion by 2024, up from USD 8 billion in 2020. The broader adaptive fashion market will grow to an USD 350 billion market globally by 2023. Zappos might’ve spotted this potential early, launching Zappos Adaptive in 2017, but the brand is continuing to refine its offering. Perhaps you saw the potential of an industry niche and jumped on it early (congrats!). But do you have the processes in place that allow you to keep innovating and setting new expectations in that space? How are you spotting new opportunities?

A final thought: regular readers may recall the (many) times we’ve highlighted that inclusive design – whether that’s for people with disabilities or another group – should be done in collaboration with the very people you are seeking to represent. How can you bring the voices of the people previously excluded from your brand into the room and incorporate into your inclusivity efforts, whether that’s website usability or packaging

Stay healthy,

The TrendWatching content team