Foot Locker is releasing footwear alongside sports company PUMA and Italian sportswear brand Diadora in honor of Autism Acceptance Month.
Two sneakers will be brought to the market to help raise awareness for autism. The two collaborations are created in tandem with designer Sarath Ton for Diadora and actor Ron Funches for PUMA.
"This Diadora and Foot Locker autism collaboration is something very important to me,” says Sarath Ton. “It's dedicated to not only all of the families who include a member who is on the spectrum, but to my brother-in-law Joshua who is autistic. Seeing the energy and love he brings to life is an inspiration to me. His genuine happiness for the little things, whether it be his love for movies and fast food, or talking about girls and singing his favorite songs, is something I try to fold into my everyday life."
Diadora's N9002 sneaker now has a custom version designed by artist Ton, to honor his brother-in-law Joshua, who is an autistic adult. The sneaker comes in a black and white motif highlighted with an infusion of multiple colors. The sneaker is available now on footlocker.com, footaction.com and champssports.com. Foot Locker and Diadora will donate $10,000 from the proceeds of this collection to Autism Speaks.
"We were very happy to team up with Foot Locker and Sarath Ton on this capsule collection,” a spokesperson for Diadora said. “We believe in sport as a way of life, and we know sport is about teamwork, which means we know when to step up for our teammates and when to step aside when it's their time to shine. We stand by Sarath's side in supporting a cause that he feels very strongly about, and we were happy to provide the right product for him to express himself, the best possible canvas to spark his creativity. This was an enriching experience, as all the best collaborations are."
In addition, the retailer partnered with actor Ron Funches, an advocate for the autism community, for an adaptive PUMA sneaker that honors Ron's son and features adaptive laces to ensure anyone who struggles with laces can wear the sneakers.
"I am excited and humbled to promote autism acceptance and to celebrate all the things my son has taught me,” says Funches. “Thank you, PUMA and Foot Locker, for making a dream come true.”
The lime green sneaker, Ron's son's favorite color, features noise-canceling headphones on the back heel – a reminder of his son. The sneaker will be available starting April 28 on footlocker.com. Foot Locker and PUMA will donate $10,000 to the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism.
"Foot Locker is continuously evolving to better serve and be inclusive of all communities," says John Hochadel, vice president, commercial concepts, Foot Locker North America. "These collaborations are particularly close to our hearts because they support the mission of one of our employee resource groups, Laced Differently – which aims to create visibility, raise awareness and strive to empower persons with disabilities. We look forward to expanding our collaborations in the future and continue to invest in Laced Differently to empower people of all abilities to express themselves through the love of sneakers."