Tag Archives: tinker hatfield

TINKER

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Being a Brit, the American college and high school sports star thing is perplexing. That’s not to say that an athlete at any school I went to wouldn’t get the girls, but PE teachers in charge weren’t being held aloft by excitable parents or being drenched by buckets of Lucozade being tipped over their heads post inter-school cross-country event. Beyond the eccentric televised nature of the Oxford/Cambridge boat race, I’m not sure that too many would be rushing to Ladbrokes if the University of Bath played Loughborough, or that a coach for some ex-poly could be so deified that they could probably commit a hit and run in their university town with immunity. In America it’s different. They have scholarships, big stadiums, big pay packets for coaches. They have All-American trophies, which sound amazing, even though I don’t even know what they actually are. I always knew that Tinker Hatfield was an athlete in high school and university (every athletic shoe designer on Nike campus appears to be capable of running an ultra marathon before work), but I never realised exactly how highly he was regarded in his day. When he told us at a Nike Q&A in Paris that a lot of people assumed he was black, because of his speed and name, he alluded to a certain status in Oregon as a teenager, but a June 1971 Eugene Register-Guard piece describes Hatfield Jr. as, “…perhaps the finest all-round track athlete produced in Oregon…” Tinker was taking four golds in track meets and, by all accounts, was no slouch in football either. The amount of sport section headlines on him during his high school days alone — pre University of Oregon — is impressive. Long before people were looking up to him for his shoe design savvy (something that has been rolled out on a grander scale than say, 12 years ago, when a core band of nerds would start banging on about Jordan XIs and Safaris at the mention of the year, his name was being mentioned in revered tones.

All this, and he designed the Huarache too. Tinker Hatfield is quite the overachiever.

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GOOD MEASURE & SHOTS THROWN

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If you can’t find the sweatshirt you want, take matters into your own hands and make the damn thing yourself. I’ve been enjoying Concepts’ Canadian-made fleece creations lately in some seasonal colours and patterns, but it’s good when the UK represents and as the man behind The Original Store, Spiv Agency and as one half of the S London tradeshow squad, Carl Burnham knows his stuff. Seeing as The Original Store championed (pun unintended) Buzz Rickson and Champion Reverse Weaves, with their polar opposite fits — jock body or smedium, but undeniable merits, Burnham has taken his favourite parts of an everyday classic, from the loopback cotton to flat locked seams, ribbed side panels to the Dorito-like ‘V’ neck. Best of all, as the Good Measure name of his sweatshirt brand suggests, it’s cut fairly wide, slightly high and with a neck that doesn’t hang off the shoulders. It sounds like the man responsible has spec’d out the kind of crew sweat we’ve loved and lost over the years. As a bonus, they’re made in England too. The idea of a perfect fit is open to endless debate until a Gattaca style uniformity comes in to play, but Good Measure seems to be aimed at a sweet spot for those hunting sweats that can be worn to the death. Oi Polloi’s got them in right now and the Dirty Yellow is a strong look.

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That’s a GOOD segue to this very brief video (via Cameron McKirdy) of Tinker Hatfield, who very briefly addressed the Kanye West/Nike situation during a presentation a few days ago. Tinker doesn’t bite his tongue on certain matters and with either Air Yeezy being built on two platforms that are his babies (Air Jordan III/Revolution and Air Tech Challenge II) he’s entitled to respond — “…and then there’s this other side of the coin where we take retro sneakers and we allow people to just design their own versions and that’s really style and sometimes those lines, they blur — they cross — and that’s how you probably end up with this Kanye situation…” There’s probably a lengthy think piece to be written paralleling sampling to using Hatfield’s existing creations for a new form, but life’s too fucking short to write it and it probably exists somewhere anyway. Tinker jokily expresses concern regarding Kanye sending goons his way for his comment, but an Anchorman-style DONDA vs. Innovation Kitchen style lunchtime rumble could be an incredible thing.

SOME STUFF I SAW THIS WEEK

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One-week between blog updates is bad form, but a trip to Nike’s WHQ for some Crooked Tongues and INVENTORY work got in the way of me and WordPress. In Portland I saw some interesting things – beyond the shoes that were being launched (and I can testify that Free Hyperfeel and full-length denim looks terrible, but the Flyknit Free is good to go with pretty much everything), I picked up some more trivia from wandering the campus and talking design out there. I learnt more about Kukinis (a shoe that reminds me of the earliest days of Spine and CT and the people I owe my career to) than ever before, I saw some Foamposite prototypes (presumable from a little later in the process than these and these), a display showcasing Tinker Hatfield’s first ever shoe design (a kid’s shoe for his own children from 1980, half a decade before he switched from architecture to shoe design), a prototype Nike shoe pre-swoosh with a bad-looking ‘N’ logo, an Inspector Gadget style experiment in Shox technology from 1984 that makes the Internationalist into something from Saw, Jordan’s injury editions of his first signature shoe. Thanks to Mr. Josh Rubin, I also visited the Portland outpost of Japan’s Snow Peak stores – one of those rare retailers that can make you want things you don’t need through beautiful packaging and dual purpose functionality. I never knew I needed a titanium coffee mug or spork until I set foot in the shop. Now I want all titanium everything.

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The fruits of my few days away should manifest over the coming months, but in the meantime, there’s a Reebok Classic collaboration coming soon (late September?) that was the brainchild of some friends and I. Having a personal connection with that silhouette, it was fun to create something using it.

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Southbank Centre Limited director (amendment: Nihal has informed me that this is wrong. He’s a governor of the board) Mr. Nihal Arthanyake’s wide-eyed and patronising plea for London’s skaters (video removed after this blog went live) to embrace their holy ground being redeveloped and relocated is excruciating. He’s keen to point out that the youth can visit the new facilities, “…not just to hang out, but to be actively engaged in the creative process – whether that be street dancing, whether that be theatre, whether that be circus skills…” While Mr. Arthanyake (usually a smart chap) purports to be a, “hip-hop guy” –after making skating sound like a supplement to street dance, he gives it an “urban” affiliation for extra faddishness – he fails to understand that sub-cultures need to defend their strongholds. The joy of the Southbank undercrofts is that they’re a piece of reappropriation. If Nihal understood hip-hop, he might grasp that. Some pre-graffed spot down the road defeats the object entirely.

He also sees skaters opposing the development as irrational. Those irrational kids taking an organised stand against their heritage being demolished eh, Nihal? It’s all about teaching the teens to get their big top skills up. Another suit who thinks a Supreme Being garment will act as a sign that they’re down – back when our man was presenting shitty Clothes Show segments on trainer hoarding, they weren’t above filming in the Southbank for credibility.

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Cannon Films has been mentioned on here several times for both their schlock and their rare detours into quality like Barfly. After the 1986 BBC Omnibus episode on the Golan-Globus empire, Electric Boogaloo: the Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films is coming soon from Mark Hartley (director of the excellent Not Quite Hollywood and the impending remake of onetime late-night BBC staple, Patrick) – this will almost certainly be excellent and shed light on some B-movie gems.

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While we wait for Champion Europe to get it together, now Champion USA seems to have smelt the Nescafe and understood that they’ve got a powerful logo and realised that there’s mileage in fleecewear with a heavier pricepoint. Made in Canada, Todd Snyder + Champion has some interesting moments. The tees are a little too Euro for my liking, but a Reverse Weave crew that’s literally in reverse and the pocket sweats and cut-off shorts are interesting. That sleeve branding that unites the classic stitch-on ‘C’ with a 1950s Champion logo works well too.

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TRANSMISSIONS

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Forgot today was blogging day. Can I just talk about the last three things I watched on YouTube? While I’m at it, I’ll plug this Tinker Hatfield feature too because there’s a few jewels in there for the nerds. I’ve been distracted by Mickey Drexler’s remarks in this Stanford appearance from late last year — I don’t subscribe to the quasi-motivational drivel that do-littles hurl all over Twitter and Facebook, but Drexler’s answer 23 minutes in regarding explosive modes of management is amazing and he offers a good excuse to use next time you swear loudly in a meeting. “Surround yourself with people that get it,” is easier said than done but it’s the key to greatness. It also means you need to recruit fellow dysfunctional oddballs.

This BBC footage of Goldie in 1989, as well as some other writers is pretty good too. It’s a shame that Dick Fontaine’s candid clips of Goldie talking about NYC trainyard and tunnel excursions have been taken down from YouTube.

For a minute I thought that a 2000 Channel 4 documentary (from Madonna Night) on her early Downtown days was a figment of my imagination, but it’s partially available online. One of the few documents of Futura 2000’s relationship with Madge, it includes a few soundbites from the man himself plus Fab Five Freddy’s entertaining attitude to her antics in the early 1980s, “I really thought Madonna was cool, but for me personally, she was not the kind of chick I would really would have wanted to get with, because a lot of my other crew had been up around her. You know what I’m saying? And that just wasn’t my steelo at the time.”

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The FUCT book for Rizzoli arrives in September, but Erik Brunetti has got his hands on an advance copy and it looks very good indeed. He’s taking pre-orders for signed copies on his site and with “streetwear”s continuing slide into just being a load of self-congratulatory thirtysomethings selling crap to kids (actually, it’s always been like that, hasn’t it?) the sense of threat that Brunetti managed to bring to the party seems more vital than ever. The fact Erik really fucking hates street art is reason enough to support his cause.

Zack De La Rocha wearing the classic Ford bite tee on a No Nirvana — a 1993 BBC Late Show special, was a great moment in streetwear on British TV. While Rage Against the Machine sure ain’t grunge (though that show was mostly bands that fell into that genre), will the current preoccupation with that scene’s industry mean an onslaught of short-sleeve tees over long-sleeves as well as plaid around the waist?

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The perfect soundtrack for that FUCT book would be Sly and the Family Stone’s classic There’s a Riot Goin’ On, with its aura of apocalypse vaguely audible beneath the good time riffing and Get On Down’s gold CD remaster comes with an embroidered take on the blood and stars American flag cover. No matter how jaded you are with fancy packaging to make you buy things you’re familiar with all of again, you’ve got to admit it looks pretty.

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2PAC’S LEATHER VEST

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I was perplexed to see a Tweet of mine rise from the dead the other day as part of a hip-hop controversy. That’s hip-hop controversy in the 2013 sense, where it’s not particularly controversial and no diss records will ever manifest. I’m fully conscious of most of my mouth running and rarely guilty for a moment’s brain flatulence and 30 seconds of thumbing, just because it’s out of timeline out of mind within 48 hours. A few years back, when Bossip ran something about fetuses, miscarriages and Joe Budden and some ex-flame I remarked that I preferred fictional misogynists from the worlds of TV and cinema to Budden — namely Trevor from EastEnders and his psychotic gravy pouring and the guy that rams a grapefruit half in his wife’s face in Superman III. Mr Action Bronson retweeted it and I was amused to see a Queens MC acknowledge a BBC soap opera reference. Some guy found it, and retweeted that 2011 Tweet as part of a project to remind rappers of their forgotten disses from when their follow counts were in the very low thousands. Thankfully, I’m not an MC and I still stand by my opinion (maybe I’ll put out a mixture one day and this will come back to haunt me). Still, there’s definitely a cautionary tale regarding the digital trail you leave every day. Salutes to Bronson for being a man and not panic deleting his retweets.

That, my friends, is what passes for rap beef nowadays. Only Chicago’s rap scene seems to have managed to merge greasy social media talk with actual bodily harm. Nobody’s going to commission a Lynn Hirschberg cover story on some guys calling each other lame and then blaming the fact that they were in their mid-twenties and high when they did it. I’ve never been able to ascertain what’s more amazing in that cover photo — Suge’s Piru-red suit, or ‘Pac’s strange mix of bulletproof vest looking leather corset that looks like a relic of the California Love video shoot, giant jeans, Moschino belt and what looks like some quasi-formal riding boots on his feet. It was a testament to Shakur’s post-jail swagger that he pulls it off.

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On the subject of New York’s greatest magazine cover shoots, this one from New York Magazine (some fairly early graffiti coverage) on the tagging epidemic stays gold too.

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Earlier this week, I got to ask Tinker Hatfield about how he actually went from architect to shoe designer. I need to see the slimline Euro-centric motor scooter shoe that doubled as a runner that he presented to Peter Moore.

On these shores, rappers used to be dressers before UK hip-hop (a frequent struggle in recent years) span off into different strains — the guys still wearing the faded Carhartt garms they were given for an Austrian tour a few years back, the guys in their tracksuit/AF1 combo and the handful of guys who made some money and get called “well-dressed” solely because they’re not the former. I hope the indiegogo campaign funded Unstoppable: The Roots of Hip-Hop in London showcases some unseen footage that proves our dudes used to be able to style it with our Yankee counterparts back in the day.

TINKERING

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Rushing blogging today for a number of reasons. But that doesn’t mean I can’t assail you with a bricolage of barely related bollocks. No sir. It just means it’s even less connected culturally than ever before. For some reason, putting some pictures from the bin bags of brand-related ephemera (which I believe are out there on the internet somewhere already) of Tinker Hatfield and Michael Jordan in deep conversation on the subject of Jordan V and VI caused some commotion, so here’s the images again (the AJV one is actually from ‘Sneakerheads’ and has been posted before, but sometimes you need to repeat yourself to get noticed). Garments, hair, variations on popular colourways and sensible shoes. It’s all here. There’s more somewhere in the papery stacks, but drop-feeding rather than turning this into some Jordan fansite is probably the best route. For the time being, until I start hunting that SEO scrilla by reposting Modern Notoriety’s images with some hyperbolic copy. One day I might start doing that here.

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How the fuck did I miss out Carhartt and Chysler’s small collection of ‘Imported From Detroit’ jackets, tees and trousers? While the union of motor vehicle and apparel isn’t necessarily destined for greatness, these pieces are the best car-related clothing since Alan Partridge’s Castrol GTX jacket. In fact, unlike some more high-profile (and more expensive) Carhartt projects, they’re made in the USA as part of a new drive (pun unintended) to promote the brand’s homegrown manufacture, as detailed by A Continuous Lean last October. The blacked out ‘Made in the USA’ patches limited runs (each individually numbered) and Detroit map on the custom quilted lining are all nice touches. In fact, from a high-end partner and launched at one of any number of Euro fashion trade shows right now, the iPhone blog paps would be descending on these pieces. But they’re not letting them into their urban ninja or street goth world right now. Not yet, anyway. These are more legit because the motor trade is one that actually necessitates workwear, whereas looking serious by a wall for a lookbook doesn’t. Admittedly, while you’ll pay extra for APC and Adam Kimmel’s vision, and they probably won’t be made in the USA, and while I love the IFD Active Jacket, it’s quite clear from the imagery that it fits mad boxy, unlike the slimmer fit of the higher-end and Euro-centric pieces.

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It’s good to read informed opinions that hint at some substantial levels of research too, and I’ve been preoccupied with The Weejun all over again lately. The musings of a Brit who has been infatuated with Ivy since 1979 (a little while before either ‘Take Ivy’ reprint, anyway) is a masterful blog and his Brooks Brothers circa 1980 piece reminded me of a conversation with a friend about rich guy trousers, wherein we defined wealth by the mindset that innately associates lurid corduroy with casual, rather than a beat up pair of jeans. Brooks Brothers mastered the rich guy trouser and The Weejun talks about the pair that caught my eye when those old catalogue PDFs popped up a few years back on the Ask Andy Trad forum via Yamauchi Yuki (who I believe is a Japanese Aloha guitarist), with a wealth of wild trousers in the mix. The Christmas “fun” cords are basically half of a click suit for the very wealthy. Anybody who can pull them off is an original don dada of the college town scene — I’ve seen similar attempts at lurid mismatches from Polo, but Brooks Brothers’ are significantly wilder.

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Bookending this entry with shoe-centric talk, given the boom in all things Nike Free, here’s a shot from a Nike promo booklet on innovation of the original Tinker Hatfield shoe prototype he called the Nike Free back in 1994 — a decade before his brother Tobie Hatfield helped bring us a very different Nike Free in 2004. As the company copy points out, this was actually destined to get a Rift-style split-toe (this was just before the Rift too). I see a little bit of HTM2 Run Boot in here, plus some traditional weave in there that may or may not have informed later developments too. That’s a lot of influence in one unreleased space age sandal and pure urban ninja fodder.

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WISH LIST

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With Christmas fast approaching, it’s time to reflect on those less fortunate than ourselves. As a result, I’m reflecting on the tragic younger form of me in 1985 and in 1994, when I requested amazing things I never got. On the back of a TV showing of ‘First Blood’ and the release of ‘Rambo: First Blood Part II’ everybody wanted a Rambo-style knife and sewing kit for mending yourself post self-surgery in the wild while on the run for knocking a policeman out a helicopter with a well-aimed rock. When novelty stores started cashing in by selling badly made weapons with a compass at the end of the handle and an enclosed wire that was meant to cut down trees, but everybody knew was for garroting enemies, everyone suddenly decided they needed one and we got on that camo hype early. I was denied one, but my brother was allowed a “survival knife” which he subsequently ruined while away at camp while throwing it at a tree to show off (or so he claims – maybe he killed a man and had to dispose of the weapon). Not only did it not stick in the tree, but the self igniting matches are alleged to have somehow lit themselves in the process and melted the handle. And that was that.

I wanted a pager because rappers always had them, name checked them and made them seem important. The fact I only needed to get hold of about two people who were glued to their Super NES anyway was irrelevant and after coming close to getting hold of a Motorola numerical pager that would involve elaborate number codes and some premium price to contact me, the plan was dropped. Looking at ads like the ones above, you can’s blame me for willing Santa to gift me the goods though, can you? The brilliantly-named Knifeco also made the more expensive and even more terrifying Survivor model that was like a grown-up version of the Survival Knife Kit. In 2012, the “Answering machine for your pocket” is totally redundant and I’d be arrested and face a custodial sentence if I marched around with Knifeco’s handiwork in a sheath (though I want this official version). There’s still part of me that wants to receive both of them on the 25th of December, just for some closure, but it’s safe to say that the ads are better than the actual items. They don’t do ads like this any more. What can I link this talk of bowie hunting knives to?

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Putting together the Christmas list, there’s plenty that’s due to drop after the big day. If we fast forward over a year, Mike Tyson’s autobiography has a publication date of the 22nd of May, 2014, but to tide us over, ‘The Undisputed Truth’ by Mike Tyson and Paul Sloman (presumably based on the Broadway show) is released on the 16th of July 2013 and yes, there’s an audio book of it too. Hopefully there’ll be an audio book of the autobiography too. I’m also saddened to see that the ‘David Bowie Is’ book doesn’t come out until a couple of weeks before the exhibition of over 300 items picked from Bowie’s art, outfits and objects that the book ties in with starts at the V&A museum (sponsored by Gucci). Seeing as the majority of men’s fashion editors appear to have just noticed that mid 1970s David Bowie looks awesome, despite the rest of the world knowing this several years prior, this exhibit and book should give them more to copy a little too late, thus defeating the object of Bowie’s masterful re appropriation and ability to stay ahead of the curve.

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Image taken from this Flickr account.

Mr. Matt Collett upped a link to a Flickr collection of Nike archive visit images from a few years bacon Facebook and it opened up a whole can of nerdery for me. We’ve all seen the Mag, the Batman boots made from Air Trainer SCs and the Batman Jordans created specially for films, but even on a trip to those fabled vaults recently I didn’t spot the ‘Jurassic Park’ raptor shoes (and I’m not talking newcomer slang for a particular pair of VIIs) there. In Donald Katz’s ‘Just Do It’ it mentions these models as an inspiration on the Air Carnivore because they were supposedly loosely related to, “…a shoe that Tinker Hatfield had worked on for the people running around inside some of the animal costumes in Jurassic Park (Tinker called those shoes Air Dinos and had since encouraged an “Animalistic” design motif).”

Oliver Hutton’s Flickr account is excellent and worth checking out, but is this image of an object credited to the Hulk, the mysterious “Air Dino”? Was it created for motion capture of raptor actors (inadvertent double rhyme) in the original ‘Jurassic Park’? I know there’s a few Beaverton-based boffins who can help me out here and the gift of weirdo knowledge would be gratefully received this Christmas.