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Foot Locker, Inc. Teams Up with Diadora & PUMA for Autism Awareness Month

author
Luis Torres

April is Autism Awareness Month and Foot Locker, Inc. is not only raising awareness but evoking change through products in collaboration with Spectrum Designs, Diadora, and PUMA for its “Be Seen” collection.

In honor of Autism Acceptance Month, the brand is ensuring that those living with autism can “Be Seen” by highlighting the community.

Foot Locker, Inc. will host educational sessions for its employees and create opportunities for young adults on the spectrum to work with the brand. In partnership with Italian sportswear brand Diadora and PUMA, Foot Locker, Inc. will release adaptive footwear and provide monetary donations to organizations helping individuals living with autism.

Additionally, Foot Locker, Inc. has also partnered with Spectrum Designs to produce custom tees, designed by individuals living with autism. Foot Locker, Inc. is also teaming with GAMUT Management to hire content creators, photographers, models, and more to support the upcoming collaborative releases.

Foot Locker, Inc. x Diadora N9002 “Be Seen” 

Sarath Ton, a former professional wrestler turned designer, has reimagined the Diadora N9002 in honor of Autism Acceptance Month; the collaboration is personal for Ton as his brother-in-law lives with autism.

The Diadora N9002 features alternative closure options. The words “awareness” & “acceptance” land on the pair,  emphasizing what April represents. The neurodiversity symbol and puzzle piece are featured on the sneakers as well.

Additionally, a custom “Be Seen” tee designed by Ton & produced by Spectrum Designs, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to creating inclusive employment & vocational training opportunities, will accompany the footwear. Both the sneakers and tees will be available beginning April 13 at Foot Locker & Champs Sports.

Foot Locker, Inc. has tapped Ben Rosloff, a filmmaker & storyteller living with autism, to film a documentary highlighting the design process and inspiration behind the “Be Seen” collection.

Foot Locker, Inc. and Diadora are donating $25,000 to the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism — an organization dedicated to helping people and families who experience autism. Former NFL quarterback Doug Flutie and his wife Laurie started the foundation in 1998 after their son, Dougie, was diagnosed with autism at the age of three.

Foot Locker, Inc. x Spectrum Designs

Dane Capo and Rebecca Oslaky were chosen to create custom “Be Seen” tees, produced by Spectrum Designs that will be sold exclusively at Foot Locker, Inc. locations.

Capo was diagnosed with epilepsy at ten months and autism at age five. He created his first painting at the age of sixteen and has since built an impressive collection featured in art shows, exhibits, and media coverage.

Oslaky is an artist from Windermere, Florida, who has a passion for art and performing. Her biggest dreams are to become a Walt Disney World performer and Walt Disney Studios animator.

Foot Locker, Inc. also plans to make a $25,000 donation to Autism Speaks in conjunction with the releases.

Foot Locker, Inc. x PUMA

Foot Locker, Inc. and PUMA will again partner with actor Ron Funches, an advocate for the autism community, for a sneaker release inspired by his son, who lives with autism. The sneakers will be available later this year.

To coincide with Autism Awareness Month, PUMA and Foot Locker, Inc. will make a $25,000 donation to NEXT For AUTISM —  an organization that creates & supports educational, clinical, and vocational programs.


As Autism Awareness Month continues, we spoke with John Hochadel, Vice President of Commercial Concepts and Head of Employee Resource Group at Foot Locker, Inc. North America to learn more about what Foot Locker, Inc. and its partners have for April and beyond.

Read the exclusive interview below.

SoleSavy: How did Autism Awareness Month become a focal point for Foot Locker, Inc.?

John Hochadel: Foot Locker, Inc.’s Autism Acceptance Month efforts support the mission of our global employee resource group, Laced Differently, which is to create visibility, raise awareness and empower persons with disabilities. Laced Differently played a large role here. We wanted to make sure that internally this project was managed by people with connections back to the broader autism community while partnering with others across our organization to bring awareness to autism and promote acceptance across our company.    

SoleSavy: Why is it so important for a brand like Foot Locker, Inc. to not only be cognizant of Autism Awareness Month but proactive with efforts & initiatives as well? 

John Hochadel: The CDC recently released statistics showing that 1 in 44 kids are on the autism spectrum. Even if autism doesn’t affect you personally or someone in your immediate family, chances are you know someone on the spectrum.

 

We believe there is a unique opportunity in our industry to make sure those living with autism are seen. This includes making more adaptive products, providing opportunities to work directly with our brand to express creativity, working with a variety of charitable organizations, and more.

SoleSavy: What prompted the brand to work with Diadora, PUMA, and Spectrum Designs for this series? And how were those conversations like from ideation to the final result? 

John Hochadel: Diadora and PUMA have been great partners throughout this journey.

 

Both were involved in our initial projects last year and have embraced the opportunity to come back this year for round two. We worked with Sarath Ton and Ron Funches to help bring these designs to life. They have family members on the spectrum and drew inspiration from that connection. Sarath wanted to lean into our “Be Seen” thematic and feature a bold color execution with glow-in-the-dark elements. Ron wanted to feature his son’s favorite color, matching his noise-canceling headphones perfectly. 

We’ve also worked with Spectrum Designs on projects unrelated to autism, and they’ve always done a fantastic job. A majority of their workforce are individuals living with autism, and that certainly fits well into our thematic of Be Seen.

SoleSavy: If there’s one thing you hope consumers take away from Foot Locker, Inc.’s efforts, what would it be? 

John Hocahdel: I hope consumers are inspired. I hope they are inspired to learn more about autism, help those who need support, and make a difference in their community.

SoleSavy: Can we anticipate Foot Locker, Inc. to continue Autism Awareness in other months & in years to come?

John Hocahdel: Ideally, this is just the beginning. There’s so much that can be done to ensure those living with autism are seen.

The Foot Locker, Inc. x PUMA sneakers, Foot Locker, Inc. x Diadora N9002 “Be Seen” colorway, and the Foot Locker, Inc. x  Spectrum Designs t-shirt will be available throughout the Foot Locker, Inc. family in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned to SoleSavy for more sneaker-related news from your favorite brands, including Foot Locker, Inc., Diadora, and PUMA

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