After headlining Nike's adaptive and inclusive "FlyEase" series of basketball shoes for several years, Washington Mystics star and two-time WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne is launching her own signature shoe with the sports apparel brand.
Dubbed the Air Deldon, the sneakers are designed to be worn at the highest levels of professional sports, while also providing accessible entry points for anyone with special needs. Delle Donne's older sister, Lizzie, has cerebral palsy and autism, and is also deaf and blind, which factored into the design process.
"The technology is really cool," Delle Donne said. "It creates so much room for someone with special needs."
The design features a collapsible heel, allowing for hands-free entry into the shoe, with a series of Velcro straps along the collar working to secure the foot in place. Delle Donne and Nike first began the journey of designing sneakers with the FlyEase ethos over five years ago, with a focus on creating an inclusive and versatile sneakers for all.
The product description says that the Air Deldon is "designed to make everyone feel seen, heard, and empowered on the court." The sneakers are available in women's sizes ranging from 5 to 17½.
Meet the Nike Air Deldon 'Lyme.' 💚— Elena Delle Donne (@De11eDonne) October 6, 2022
Inspired by my battle with Lyme disease, this shoe
represents the fight I bring both on and off the court.
Through sharing my story, I hope to show other
athletes what's possible.
Shop Nike Air Deldon https://t.co/v8kM8chUUr pic.twitter.com/ghQkvgocjU
While she's long headlined FlyEase, the launch of the Air Deldon will bring more detailed storytelling and personal design input. Six colorways are slated to be released, with each revealing a chapter of Delle Donne's life.
The debut colorway, with lime green accents throughout, is in recognition of Delle Donne's ongoing battle with Lyme disease, which she first contracted in 2008.
"This shoe represents the fight I bring both on and off the court," she said. "Through sharing my story, I hope to show other athletes what's possible."
In addition to the themed colorways, the shoes also feature Delle Donne's "EDD" circle logo along the strap closures and heel, as well as another EDD text along a forefoot nylon tab to round out the signature detailing.
While helping to establish the initial design direction and insights for the FlyEase series, Delle Donne specifically sought for her sneakers to often utilize a mix of materials and textures. The Air Deldon incorporates leather, rich suedes, pull tabs and an oversized, rubberized Swoosh.
"For Lizzie, she can't see and she can't hear, so feel is everything to her," Delle Donne said in 2019.
Throughout the history of the WNBA, signature sneakers for top stars have been rarified air. After only nine women received signature shoes during the league's first 25 seasons, both Delle Donne and Seattle Storm star Breanna Stewart debuted and played in theirs this summer. There are expected to be more WNBA stars receiving their own signature sneakers, as soon as next season.