There are few figures more legendary in the world of sneaker design than Tinker Hatfield: if there’s a Nike shoe you’re a fan of, then Hatfield probably had a hand in its creation. The most recent shoe to benefit from the designer’s involvement is the Hyperadapt 1.0 – the first commercially-available shoe from Nike to use the EARL lacing system. Granted, the sneaker isn’t a pioneer in using the technology — that honor famously belongs belongs to the Nike Mag (“the movie shoe” as Hatfield calls it).
Famous as it may be, the extraordinarily complicated Nike Mag (involving a 1,000 step creation process, compared to the usual 192 steps) was just the start for Nike, who have since taken the technology and added it to the Hyperadapt — a shoe which just launched in London. To celebrate the release, Hatfield flew over to discuss the product, which hit the US several months earlier. Kicking off the conversation, Hatfield explains why the shoe took so long to cross the Atlantic.
“The only reason it didn’t come out in London was because it’s an electronics product,” says Hatfield. “With electronics it takes time to get your product licensed in other countries for safety reasons, so this had to go through some rigorous testing before we could sell it in England or France or Spain.” The shoe passed all the necessary tests and made it to market, a feat Hatfield was understandably excited by: “We think people here might be a little more open minded about new stuff,” he explains. “In the US people are typically a little more isolated from the rest of the world. In Britain there’s a lot more sharing of ideas, so they’re probably exposed to more things.”
While the electronics have all remained the same since the U.S. launch of the Hyperadapt, the main difference between the Nike Mag is its billing as a sports-first shoe. “This one had to work for basketball and running and tennis. The work testing had to be much more rigorous than this than that movie shoe,” says Hatfield. “We’re calling this a multi-purpose shoe, but the next version is gonna be a basketball shoe. Like a specific shoe to the world of basketball and the best basketball players on the planet.”
With that low-key confirmation in mind, teasing out more information on the shoe seemed the logical next step — but Hatfield wasn’t budging. The only concession he did make was revealing that “it’ll be a completely different look and completely different shape,” before adding that “we can’t tell the world our secrets until it’s closer to the marketplace.”
The phrase “the best basketball players on the planet” pops up more than once during our conversation, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to think that the Hyperadapt 2.0 will be worn by the likes of LeBron James and his peers in the sport. And, with the next iteration of the shoe being purely a sports shoe and the 1.0 version being described as a cross-sports shoe, the price point is expectedly not consumer friendly — if you’re looking for a pair of sneakers to wear to the gym that is.
“It’s not realistic to think everybody can go out and spend £600 on a pair of sneakers”
“It’s not realistic to think everybody can go out and spend £600 on a pair of sneakers,” says Hatfield. “But our costs of development are so high, that’s just where it headed out. Over time, those costs will keep diminishing and we’ll be able to pass those savings over to the consumer.” Hatfield also believes that, in the future, this technology will be used in just about every Nike shoe: “And the price will come down because of mass production and also just factories will be more used to it,” he explains, before going on to compare the Hyperadapt to the early days of computers. “The first desktop computer was quite expensive and the more they made, the less expensive they get and the easier it is to do the next one without spending so much money, and that’s gonna happen here. These are expensive but they’ll become less and less expensive.”
The eventual cost drop is why the design of the shoe is, in Hatfield’s own words, “rather sedate.” He expands on this, saying the Hyperadapt is “like a Converse low-top, only for the future. This could become a classic because it’s so simple.” Is classic appeal something Hatfield considers during the design process? “I think it’s difficult to sit and look at design and go ‘we’re gonna create a new classic,’” he says. “What we’re really trying to do is just create the best product we can, it’s the customer that decides whether or not it’s good enough to become a classic some day. So we don’t make that call. You guys do.”
While there are several certified classics in the archive for Hatfield, the Huarache’s re-emergence came as the biggest surprise. “It was a big success when it first came out and then we stopped making them. It’s actually been bigger over the last few years. It’s been a surprise that it came back around, because that shoe was designed quite a long time ago.” But, while the Huarache may have been a blast from the past that Nike then capitalized on, Hatfield is still very much focused on the future. After this launch, “hopefully within the next several months,” he begins, “the basketball Hyperadapt will come out. It’ll be even more heavily promoted and it’ll be worn by the best players.”
Hatfield begins to discuss the shoe’s next iteration and, in a minor slip of the tongue, gives away some future plans about the Hyperadapt’s direction. “Then you’ll see it after that on football boots and also some running shoes, but that’s a little bit further down the road.”
The Nike HyperAdapt 1.0 is coming to London – to find out where and when you can try it on and purchase, download and stay tuned to the Nike SNEAKRS App.