Looking Up to the Air- A 1987 Masterpiece: The Inspiration Behind the Iconic Air Jordan Brand
In 1987, Nike released a new basketball shoe designed by legendary footwear designer Tinker Hatfield. Called the Air Jordan, it was an instant sensation, and the start of a global phenomenon that would change the face of basketball and sneaker culture forever. But what inspired Hatfield to create this masterpiece, and what is the story behind the iconic Air Jordan brand?
The Men Behind the Magic
To understand the genesis of the Air Jordan, we need to start with the man behind the design: Tinker Hatfield. A former pole-vaulter, Hatfield had worked at Nike for several years as a designer of running shoes before being appointed to work on the Air Jordan project. He was tasked with creating a shoe that would not only look good but also provide the support and cushioning needed for intense basketball games.
But Hatfield was not the only one involved in the creation of the Air Jordan. The shoe was named after basketball superstar Michael Jordan, who had recently signed a sponsorship deal with Nike. Jordan was instrumental in the development of the shoe, providing input on the design and materials used.
The inspiration for the Air Jordan came from an unlikely source – a trip that Hatfield took to Paris. While there, he visited the Pompidou Centre, a building famous for its exposed structure and industrial design. The building had a unique feature – an exterior escalator that gave visitors a breathtaking view of the city. This inspired Hatfield to design a shoe that would be equally eye-catching and futuristic.
The result of Hatfield’s work was the Air Jordan, a shoe that combined style and function like no other. The shoe featured a visible Air-Sole unit in the heel, which provided cushioning and support while also adding to the shoe’s distinctive look. The Air Jordan was also one of the first basketball shoes to feature a high-top design, which provided extra ankle support and protection.
The Air Jordan was an instant hit, both on and off the court. Michael Jordan’s success on the basketball court helped to propel the shoe’s popularity, and soon, fans around the world were clamoring for their own pair of Air Jordans.
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The Birth of a Brand
In the years that followed, Nike would continue to release new versions of the Air Jordan, each one more sought-after than the last. The brand became a cultural phenomenon, with fans collecting every new release and waiting in long lines for hours to get their hands on a pair.
Today, the Air Jordan brand is one of the most recognizable and successful in the world. It has transcended basketball and become a symbol of youth culture and street fashion. And it all started with a trip to Paris and a visionary designer named Tinker Hatfield.