An Oral History of HTM, Nike's Most Powerful Design Team

Hiroshi, Tinker and Mark break it down.

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Since its formation in the early 2000s, Nike's HTM trio has produced some of the most coveted footwear out there. The team consists of Japanese designer Hiroshi Fujiwara, Nike design legend Tinker Hatfield and Nike CEO Mark Parker, who've come together for 32 releases over the course of the line.

Their creations span from forward-thinking, teched out shoes like the Nike Sock Dart to dressed up takes on retro icons. In a new piece from Nike, the three minds of HTM speak on the history of their work together. Find excerpts below and read the rest at Nike News

How It All Started

Hiroshi Fujiwara: When I met Mark for the first or second time, before he became the CEO, he asked me, “If you were to do something with Nike, what would it be?” I answered that I wanted to help elevate certain models.

Mark Parker: I was traveling a lot to Japan and connected with Hiroshi. Of course, Tinker and I had been working together for years on projects like the Nike Air Max 1, Air Trainer 1, ACG, Jordans, among others. When we were around Hiroshi, we’d spend a lot of time talking about product and design. So at one point we felt that instead of sitting around and talking about ideas, we should put them into action and make something. 

Tinker Hatfield: I’m pretty sure HTM ultimately was Mark’s idea. It strikes me in retrospect that this is right up his alley. He really knows how to bring the right people together.

Mark Parker: I’ve always believed the best partnerships are formed through authentic connections. That’s how HTM was formed. It happened organically. 

Hiroshi Fujiwara: Other companies have used acronyms to stand for collaborations so, as a code name, I used HTM to represent Hiroshi, Tinker and Mark. But I never dreamed that would become the official name.

Mark Parker: We gave the project its own identity by putting our initials on it, which at first didn’t mean anything to most people. “HTM” was a simple name and came to represent each of our fingerprints on the process.

The First HTM Shoe

Tinker Hatfield: At first, HTM was an exercise of using unexpected colors and materials to elevate classic designs.

Hiroshi Fujiwara: This was a time when luxury sneakers were not so common. So at the beginning, HTM became an opportunity to add a sense of luxury to sneakers.

Mark Parker: With HTM, there aren’t really any constraints. We can use the best materials at our disposal because we’re not usually creating something that’s produced in great numbers. So for the Air Force 1, we wanted to make a premium version by using an incredibly high-end leather. And instead of athletic color-blocking, we emphasized the classic lines of the shoe with contrast stitching.

HTM x Kobe Bryant

Hiroshi Fujiwara: The KOBE 9 Elite Low HTM gave us the opportunity to celebrate how much Flyknit had evolved. What was first used for running could now be used for the intense, diagonal movements of basketball.

Tinker Hatfield: Of course I wasn’t really involved in the design of that shoe, but I was sitting next to Eric Avar throughout its development and I personally think that that’s one of the best-crafted, best-designed, best-tested products that we’ve ever put together. It’s a superb combination of technology and athlete insight.

Mark Parker: Kobe is an athlete who always wants the latest innovation in his footwear, so it seemed fitting that his shoe would be the first signature athlete model we worked on as HTM. He was exited about it. He loves sneakers, so I think he enjoyed the connection to HTM.