Tinker Hatfield’s original vision for the Air Joran III is finally seeing the light of day, 30 years after this iconic shoe was released.
The most dramatic difference is the addition of the Swoosh, which will now exist as it was originally sketched, as well as a never-before-seen "Fire Red" colourway. The shoe will also feature a white and black midsole, light grey mudguards and the legendary Nike Air branding on the heel.
The Good Life release mechanism will be announced soon.
It was 1987, and with a rocky relationship looming between Nike and Michael Jordan, the release of the Air Jordan III was literally a make-or-break shoe for the brand.
The project was given to Tinker Hatfield. His brief? “Just do something with it”.
Having just finished the designs for the Air Pack (featuring the Air Revolution basketball shoe) Hatfield jumped on a plane to meet MJ face to face to get a clearer idea of his vision.
Jordan told Hatfied he wanted a pair of basketball shoes that were comfortable ‘fresh out of the box ‘and didn’t need breaking in. As a guy with a great sense of style, Hatfield knew Jordan also wanted something eye-catching on court.
Hatfield flew back to Beaverton and started working on new drawings and prototypes. Using the midsole of the Air Revolution, he created a mid-silhouette and found softer leather options for extra comfort. Along the design process, he would paint illustrations of Jordan wearing the shoe so he could visualise how they would look on him. He also added an embroidered version of the new Jumpman logo (a sketch Hatfield found in the research folder) and left ample space for the Nike Swoosh. A graphic designer was also recruited to add the Jumpman logo onto apparel for the first time.
With the pitch meeting set, Hatfield was ready to show Jordan his final concept. He remembers Jordan being four hours late to the meeting, sitting down and saying, “Show me what you got”. Unbeknownst to Phil Knight and others in the room, Hatfield had already prepared a prototype of the Air Jordan III: mid-cut, without a Swoosh, in an untraditional black colourway. It was sitting under a piece of cloth waiting for its grand reveal.
Hatfield explained to Jordan that this was “unlike any basketball shoe I've ever seen.’” He pulled back the cloth and Jordan leaned over and grabbed it straight away. Within 5 minutes Jordan was smiling asking all kinds of questions. Within 20 minutes the meeting was over, and the iconic Air Jordan III was born.