If you want to feel old, forget the fact that WIRED is 25, and realize that Nike designed the first Air Jordan in 1984, for NBA star Michael Jordan. Thirty-four years later, the original red, black and white high tops have spawned their own sneaker subculture.
This morning, at the WIRED25 festival in San Francisco, famed Nike designer Tinker Hatfield was onstage with former WIRED editor in chief Scott Dadich. He lifted his feet to the packed crowd and give a sneak peek at a new generation of kicks—the latest Jordan running shoe.
(As a former athlete himself, Hatfield’s designs for professional footwear are widely respected, and Hatfield’s design of the third generation of the Air Jordan is credited with being the key reason that Michael Jordan decided to stick with the brand, instead of jumping ship to a competitor.)
“This is a running shoe for people who don’t like to run,” says Hatfield, explaining that he designed it for high-level athletes, like 240-pound football linebackers, who have to run as part of their training to stay aerobically fit, but who aren’t especially fast, or don’t have great form and technique.
These new running shoes have extra stabilizing structures built into a black nylon latticework frame around the heel. The secret is a series of fins on the back: Slower runners typically land on their heel, explained Hatfield, whereas faster sprinters land on their forefoot. This shoe compensates for the dawdlers, who may be slogging through their workout.
“It’s about ready to be commercialized, it’s been shown to the sales force, its been shown to the retailers,” says Hatfield. But, as of yet, it doesn’t have an official name. So Hatfield’s calling it the GOAT running shoe, for Michael Jordan, now known at the Greatest Player of All Time on the NBA courts. Nike may not be ready to share the shoes with the wider world just yet, but you can watch the unofficial unveil in the video below.
Tinker Hatfield On His Career at Nike and His New GOAT Jordans | WIRED25