On Zappos Adaptive’s fourth birthday, the retailer announced that it has reinforced its commitment to the disability community.
The Las Vegas-based company revealed yesterday that it has joined the Valuable 500 initiative to promote disability inclusion. Through its participation, Zappos.com has pledged to work alongside brand partners to aid in the development of adaptive products or discover adaptations to existing silhouettes that would allow for more accessibility.
Among the members of the Valuable 500 — a business-to-business initiative founded two years ago in Davos, Switzerland — are Burberry, Deckers Brands, H&M, Prada, PVH and Ugg. The program aims to put disability on the global business leadership agenda through advertising and marketing campaigns, product offerings or other functions.
“Great things come at the intersection of passion and determination, and both events [the Valuable 500 pledge and Zappos Adaptive’s anniversary] are a testament to this,” Zappos Adaptive business development manager Dana Zumbo told FN. “Be it the continued growth and expansion of our curated shopping experience that aims to better serve the disability community or formally putting a stake in the ground with The Valuable 500 to commit to helping even more brands adapt and design inclusive products, Zappos is fully dedicated to the journey towards inclusivity for all.”
Zappos is among the industry’s pioneers in creating shoes for people with disabilities: Its Adaptive shopping platform was introduced in April 2017 — three years after a customer, in a phone call with an employee, asked if she could exchange a pair of shoes for her grandson, who had autism and needed help tying the laces on his own.
Since then, the retailer has launched the Single and Different Size Shoes program — through which customers are able to buy only one shoe or two shoes in different sizes and widths to create a pair — as well as Ugg Universal, a collection in partnership with the sheepskin bootmaker that features functional iterations of two iconic styles: the Classic Short and Neumel.
Aside from Zappos, other apparel and footwear companies have identified the philanthropic and entrepreneurial opportunities of entering the adaptive business: Department store chain Kohl’s has added adaptive lines to three of its private-label kids brands, while major players like Nike as well as startups such as Powerlace and Zerotie have developed hands-free sneaker innovations to serve customers with various needs.