Tinker Hatfield, the architect of Nike and Jordan Brand's success

In the 1980s, long before the sneakers phenomenon exploded and pushed manufacturers of historical sneakers such as Nike to surround themselves with emeritus artists, designers were sort of the stars who had all the means, or almost, to do the difference. In Oregon, where the brand at Swoosh has been historically established since 1972, the one who was going to become the most illustrious of these designers quickly distinguished himself thanks to his imagination as his audacity. Tinker Hatfield was not however intended for such a career, in any case not within the "footwear '' 'division of the supplier, since it was as an architect that he was recruited a few years before His first glance, the Air Max 1. How did he then succeed in building the success of Nike and the Jordan Brand? This is the question we are going to try to answer here on Kikikickz's blog.

Running in basketball, the multisport inheritance of Tinker Hatfield.

First of all, we must highlight the greatness of the ambition that immediately displayed Nike After its creation. She pushed her to conquer at all costs several other booming sports at that time, starting with basketball. The Air Force 1, the silhouette that has truly allowed him to interfere on the NBA parquet floors, and therefore to make one of his main objectives a reality, was thus born in 1982. This conquest, so formidable even, However, was not without consequences for the American firm. Nike has indeed left feathers, especially on the running market, thus offering its competitors the freedom to return to the race.

Nike Air Max 1: The birth of a myth.

It is precisely in this context that Tinker Hatfield was offered a designer position in the "Footwear" division of Beaverton. Its mission was as simple to understand as complex to undertake. The former perchist of the University of Oregon, where he met the co-founder of Nike Bill Bowerman, had the heavy task of designing a pair of visually avant-garde racing shoes and technically able to outperform the Best references of the moment. For this, Hatfield drew inspiration from his favorite universe, architecture, and this during a visit to Paris. It was there, in the heart of the French capital, that he discovered the Center Pompidou, a building with a contemporary structure of which he sought to reproduce transparency via the insertion of a "window" in the sole of his Air Max 1. This opening was and is still intended to make the technology of cushioning air visible, the heart of the model released in 1987 and all its developments which continue to ensure the sustainability of the Air Max range.

Much more than a range, the Air Max is a project of which the one that is commonly nicknamed "La Parisienne" was only the first stone. With its success, Tinker Hatfield had carte blanche to continue his work and give it more meaning by granting the system developed by Frank Rudy in 1978 a maximum of space and visibility, hence the name Air Max which was attributed. In 1990, his purpose materialized by the release of the Air Max 3, which we know more under the designation Air Max 90 since 2000.

Tinker Hatfield at the rescue of Michael Jordan.

The early entry of Air Max 1 to the Sneakers Pantheon gave Hatfield such legitimacy that it was towards him that the brand again turned to the comma when it was about to lose Michael Jordan, At the end of the 1986-87 NBA season. After the failure of his second signature model made jointly by Bruce Kilgore, the father of AF-1 and Peter Moore, who had however illustrated himself with the air Jordan 1 and the Nike Dunk in 1985, the number 23 of the Chicago Bulls actually thought of leaving the American equipment supplier. He then called his designer prodigy to the rescue. The rest, everyone knows. By betting on its emblematic air bubble and an effective design provided, among other things, with an elephant print that has become cult, the Air Jordan 3 definitely convinced the legend of the prosecution to stay. And it is clear that it remains an inexhaustible source of inspiration for renowned stylists such as Huroshi Fujiwara, who revisited it in 2020 to sign the Design Fragment X Air Jordan 3 ‘’ Black & White ’’ ’, a must-have available on Kikikickz.

In the years that followed, Tinker Hatfield and Michael Jordan logically maintained their lucrative collaboration, with the key to the sneakers who are equal to the player's talent. We think for example of the Air Jordan 4, that you may have Off-White's "Sail" color in sight, which remains legitimately considered as an improved version of the AJ3, as well as the Air Jordan 5 And to his shark teeth inspired by those of the P-51 Mustang plane, on the front of the foot.

To say that Tinker Hatfield has forever marked the story of Nike, and more generally sneakers, of his imprint would be a sweetness. Especially since it has many other classic sneakers to his credit. How not to mention the 1987 air trainer 1, which John McENROE popularized on tennis courts, or the Huarache From 1991 and its internal neoprene slipper similar to the one that equips water ski boots? It is also to him that we owe the legendary Nike Air Mag that he imagined in 1989 for the second part of the return to the future saga. In short, you will have understood, Hatfield is a designer of Gé Gés without who Nike would probably have not been able to set himself up as the world leader in sportswear that he is today. In any case not so easily. The latter has it, anywhere because he strives to perpetuate his heritage through unpublished variations of his bestsellers that you can find here, on Kikikickz, in a unique collection of limited editions for men and female.

Photo credits: Complex

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Benjamin Descamps

Fan de sneakers depuis l'adolescence. J'ai un faible pour les Jordan rétro et les premières Air Max. J'interviens sur l'Edito pour vous parler de tout ce qui a trait à la culture sneakers, tant en termes d'actualité que d'histoire.