The (Other) Man Behind the Jordan
Hey there sneakerheads, this week we give you a spotlight on Tinker Hatfield.
Okay, so you’ve probably heard of him &mdash it’s hard to forget a name like Tinker — but how much do you know about him? Yes, he created the Air Jordan (among others!) and will forever be remembered as a legend, but how did he get there?
Tinker Hatfield, Jr., was born in 1952 in Hillsboro, Oregon. His father, the late Tinker Hatfield, Sr., was “a legendary figure in Oregon coaching circles who won three straight state Class AA titles”, so you could say that Junior perhaps came by his own athletic prowess naturally. Tinker Jr excelled in basketball, football, and track and field, achieving All State selection distinctions. He continued his studies (and athletics) at University of Oregon, where he studied architecture and ran track.
Fun fact: His track coach was none other than Nike co-founder Bill Bowman.
A dedicated athlete, for a time Hatfield held the school’s record for the pole vault.
Tinker graduated with a degree in Architecture and in 1981 joined the Nike team as, you guessed it, an architect. A few short years later, by 1985 he was working in shoe design. By applying his architectural skills to the field of shoe design, Hatfield changed sneakers (and sneaker culture) as we knew them. As the story goes, he designed the first “cross-training” shoe (the Nike Air Trainer) after observing how fellow gym patrons brought multiple pairs of shoes to the gym and changed them for each activity.
Currently Hatfield is Nike’s Vice President of Design & Special Projects, and spends a lot of his time in the famed “Innovation Kitchen” dreaming up new ways to change the game. His creativity hasn’t been limited to shoes though. Hatfield has worked on all kinds of projects ranging from graphic design, to basketball court designs, even working on the Nike + Jordan concept car for Gran Turismo 6. All this — in addition to having designed every pair of game worn Jordans since ’88 — landed him on Fortune magazine’s “100 Most Influential Designers” list of 1998.
Nearly 20 years have passed since that distinction, but it’s safe to say that Tinker Hatfield remains among the best of that prestigious group today.
Have a great weekend!