Jun 30, 2020


Victor Santo FOTO: Getty Images

If your sneakers are no longer a basic need because now you are also interested in knowing what is behind the story and especially who created it, you deserve thumbs up. But who actually created it?

A former athlete and a recent graduate in architecture from the University of Oregon, Tinker Hatfield, began his career at Nike HQ in 1981. In 1985, after winning a design competition for creating a new shoes model, he would start working exclusively on the design development of the company’s sneakers. The academic base in architecture has raised the standard of its creations considerably, exceeding technology limits and becoming a watershed in the contemporary design of the industry.

In the past four decades, Tinker has taken its starting point by developing the most iconic models you've probably ever had, or that you really desire or will own it one day. For this reason, his projects have become part of pop culture and thus undoubtedly, he consecrates himself as one of the most talented and renown shoe designer of all time.

Among his main creations, we will start this 'tour' with the Air Max 1, sneaker born in 1987 with an innovative design took the brand to an extremely competitive level. The model is still today, an indispensable item in the wardrobe of many and stamped figure of the celebrations of #AirMaxDay.

The Nike Air Trainer 1 has been conceived out of the need for a shoe that was not limited to just one sport. Something that would work in an aerobic training but that also would be fit for a tennis court match. In 1987, the designer's newest creation would debut at the feet of the controversial John McEnroe in the color “Chlorophyll”, highly praised today. The former athlete collects 77 titles and at the time was already ranked #1 in the ATP.

Hot Lava, is the name of another tennis court classic. Signed by André Agassi in 1990, Air Tech Challenge II has vibrant colors, purposely “subversive” which, in a way, reflects the player’s controversial behavior, different from the usually conservative and more discreet conduct in the tennis world. The following year, the Air Tech Challenge ¾ would come, which would not only represent an aesthetic evolution but yet it was performance centered for the courts.

In the same year, Tinker Hatfield designed again the Air Max with the intention of modernizing it and consequently the Air Max 90 was born. Named “Infra Red”, it features shoes’ red details, which is a main design detail even nowadays.

Like the Air Max 90, in 1991 the Air Max 180 would come with a vibrant color that featured an air pocket. The successor would be the first model with the air unit directly in contact with the floor:

Still in 1991, another important launch took place. Accompanied by the question ‘Have You Hugged Your Foot Today?’ It was related to neoprene and spandex socks inside shoes and the comfort it provided to the feet. The minimalist proposal with phylon technology would bring a lot of efficiency in absorbing impacts and providing optimum feedback in a race.

Still on the same platform, Tinker wanted to preserve the characteristics of a running shoe in a product aimed at basketball and with this in mind, the Air Flight Huarache was developed. These shoes became even more popular when it was worn by Michigan Wolverines ballers, the Fab 5 and also by Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, to name just a few.

The designer was also responsible for creating the Air Jordan III until the XV, Air Jordan XX, and XX3. In addition, he co-developed the Air Jordan 2010 with Mark Smith, a model that marks the 25 years of production of the line and the Air Jordan XXX.

His relationship with Michael Jordan has become one of the most genuine and unique between athlete and designer. The design and the shoes industry, as a whole, as well as the interaction between other athletes and designers, have been positively influenced by this successful union to this day.

Tinker, continues at Nike as VP of Design dedicated to innovation projects.

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