Nike’s app-connected ‘custom shoe for everyone’ doesn’t come in women’s sizing

The future is female — unless you happen to be Nike, that is.

The shoemaker and cultural force that brought us everything from the Air Jordan to the Air Yeezy is back at it again with the release of an app-connected shoe that Nike promises will forever change our understanding of the perfect fit. Sneakerheads, meet the Nike Adapt BB: “a custom shoe for everyone” that The Verge reports just so happens to not come in women’s sizing. 

The shoe, announced Jan. 15 and available for purchase starting Feb. 17, offers everything you never needed in a pair of kicks. According to the splashy press release, your hard-earned $350 buys you not just athletic footwear, but “a platform that creates a truly custom fit by combining an advanced power-lacing system, an app and continually updated firmware featured in the new Nike Adapt BB basketball shoe.”   

As Michael Donaghu, Nike’s VP of Innovation, explains, this self-tying shoe (i.e. the “advanced power-lacing system”) is the innovation the world has been waiting for — à la the car replacing the horse-drawn carriage, or streaming video replacing the VHS tape. And yes, needing an app to tie your shoes does seem like a version of the future, albeit a particularly awful one. 

“[The shoelace] remains, somehow, despite its imperfections,” he writes with a hint of what is surely genuine disbelief. “We’ve all had laces come undone on us, forcing a sudden time-out. And because the foot visibly swells throughout the day – even over the course of a single basketball game — we have to constantly tie and untie our shoes to get the fit just right.”

The charging pad screams "freedom."

The charging pad screams “freedom.”

The solution to this millennia-old problem, we’re told, is the Adapt BB. And maybe the shoe is great!  We didn’t try them on, but a reporter with The Verge did, and she wrote that they were hard to get on. The reporter, Ashley Carman, also noted something else: the “sneaker of the future,” as she dubbed it, “will only be released in men’s sizing.”

We reached out to Nike to confirm that there will not be women’s sizing for the Adapt BB, and a company spokesperson emphasized that while the shoe will only be released in men’s sizing, it’s a unisex shoe that can be worn by all. 

“What the Verge wrote isn’t fully correct as it’s a unisex shoe,” wrote the spokesperson. “They are available in men’s sizes M7-M14 and M15, which is equivalent to the following: W8-W 15.5, W16.5).”

And, to be sure, women can and do wear men’s-sized shoes all the time. And Nike offers a handy size chart for converting men’s sizes into women’s. However, with the smallest Adapt BB size a men’s seven, anyone looking for something smaller than a women’s 8.5 is out of luck. And, as The Verge reports, the WNBA has at least one player wearing the equivalent of a men’s 6.5 — “so not even every professional basketball player can wear these.”

This isn’t a problem unique to Nike. Just last November, Steph Curry responded to a young fan’s letter inquiring as to why his Curry 5s basketball shoe wasn’t offered in girls’ sizes. He promised to change that going forward. Time will tell if Nike does the same. 

But hey, maybe Nike is just trying to do women the favor of not having to charge their footwear on a wireless-charging pad? Now that is truly revolutionary. 

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