words // Brandon Richard
One day while sitting at his desk, Tinker Hatfield was passed a yellow sticky. Delivered from the top, the note requested that he make a shoe for outdoor basketball. Understanding that it was more of an instruction than it was a request, Tinker sprung into action. He went to work on his sketch pad while fellow designer Mark Smith boarded a plane for New York in attempt to get a feel for the city's playground hoop atmosphere.
The two decided that while they wanted a model that would accommodate the usual wear and tear of the outdoor game, adding extra bulk wasn't necessary. They went with a flat sole to maintain total contact with the ground and a heavy -duty lateral bumper for increased support and durability. The desire to create a resilient shoe that was also lightweight resulted in an expressive and interactive design that worked with an outdoor environment.
Of course, the Air Raid's standout feature was the lockdown cross-straps, which Tinker designed after watching athletes tape their ankles. The 'X' design of the straps coincidentally arrived at a time when knowledge of self and roughneck aesthetics united.
“That X was about strapping up to go into battle, because you’re going to get knocked around the frickin’ cage and you need to strap yourself in.” - Tinker Hatfield
Twenty years later, the Air Raid is still one of Tinker’s favorite projects. “We felt that in a short space of time, we’d caught the essence of the shoe itself — a rougher game without officials and referees.”
Check out the Air Raid in all of its OG glory below and click here to keep up with Nike's 20 Designs That Changed The Game.