Nikes, the shoes most of us have owned at one point. Air Maxes, Huaraches, Trainers, Jordans. Behind these shoes stands Tinker Hatfield, a shoe designer known well by the 2 million+ sneaker-heads in North America, but not by many more.
For my grade nine eminent project, I have chosen to research Tinker Hatfield. I have been interested in sneaker culture since last year, when I was looking for new shoes for school. I wanted to have a nice pair of shoes that would look cool but I didn’t know anything about sneakers, which were good and which were bad. I started to do some research and found out a lot about how the history of sports or world events that can be told through sneaker colourways and designs. This is called sneaker culture. I found out about Tinker Hatfield when I was watching a documentary about design on Netflix. It told about this great designer who created most of the classic Nike sneakers and some of the newest, most innovative ones. I realized that in sneaker culture, many people know all about the shoe and who wore it, but rarely know about the person that made it.
Tinker Hatfield or Tink, as he is called by the sneaker-head community, was a pole vaulting star at the University of Oregon, the same university where Nike was created. The founder of Nike was Tinker’s coach. He involved the young athlete in the company and eventually Tinker moved up the ranks to become the head designer. He has designed many shoes for Nike, but his most outstanding achievement is his work with the Air Jordan line that some argue saved Nike from a financial crisis and kept the company alive. This was the start of popularity for custom made shoes for outstanding basketball players. These shoes have also been the centerpiece of sneaker culture over the past thirty years. Another famous shoe that he designed is the Back to the Future 2 Air Mag. This futuristic self-lacing shoe was immediately loved when the film released. However, hardly anyone knew who designed it. Tinker Hatfield is now taking this self-lacing idea and implementing it into new shoes that he promises will revolutionize sneakers.
Like me, he grew up in a privileged Caucasian family, and is obviously interested in design. I want to learn more about the design of sneakers and what it takes to be a designer for Nike. I also intend to shine some light on Tinker as he is the person behind many of Nike’s most popular and sought-after sneakers. I believe that he is eminent and is an important person for the world to know about.