One of the most significant sneakers of all-time almost looked completely different.
As part of Wall Street Journal's profile of Nike CEO Mark Parker for its 2015 Brand Innovator award, WSJ spoke with designer Tinker Hatfield who revealed something we've never heard about the Air Max 1.
According to Hatfield, he and Parker spent months researching and developing the famous runner. Eventually, they came to an agreement on the overall concept, but some of the aesthetics still needed to be hashed out. Apparently, Mark Parker thought the sneaker would perform better with a strap across the upper.
"I didn’t think we needed it," Hatfield said.
At the time, Parker was the head of special projects for footwear, R&D, and design, meaning he could have simply ignored Hatfield's input and added the strap anyway. Instead, Parker kept trying to convince Hatfield that it was necessary from both a technical and style standpoint.
"That's his approach, to be calm, to continue to state the reasons, to keep showing his sketches. He has a mild and subtle way of changing an opinion. It's effective, because in the end, you’re agreeing with him," Hatfield said.
As we know, the final design didn't include the strap, but this story lives on in the form of an inside joke — they actually painted an image of the Air Max 1 on one of Nike's corporate jets.
"You can only see it from inside the jet. So that when he looks out he is reminded of the disagreement and how we resolved it and how it made a better shoe," Hatfield said.