What cultural event or historic icons come to mind when you reminisce on the year 1987?
The first time The Simpsons aired on TV, the first TV ad for condoms, the first UK criminal convicted by DNA evidence, Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad’ album or how about that ‘oh-so’ famous movie Lethal Weapon. Whether you were old enough to remember 1987 or a winning sperm on standby, we’ve all been touched by the magic of this iconic year.
For me and other sneaker enthusiasts, 1987 was a historic year for Nike. The year Tinker Hatfield Jr. dropped an explosive cultural bomb in the form of the Air Max 1. Following in the footsteps of his father, he was an all-star high school athlete dominating many sports. He then went on to graduate from the University of Oregon with a BA in Architecture.
Tinker eventually joined Nike in 1981, started designing shoes by ’85 and dropped the iconic Air Max in 87. Later that year he produced a hybrid performance trainer with street-flyness in luxurious animal print material — the Air Max Safari. Tinker was innovating something no one had ever considered doing before — linking his love of sport and his knowledge of architecture, with panache.
When asked by designboom Magazine how his background in architecture influenced his trainer designs, Tinker replied:
The Air Max 1 was a performance shoe, but I wanted to bring a storyline that would highlight the technology to people. I went to Paris around the same time and saw the Pompidou Center and was struck by how Renzo Piano and his team had turned this building inside out. That helped me come up with the idea of the visible air window to help people understand the new air bag technology used in the shoe” ~ Tinker Hatfield
Fast forward 25 years and the Air Max 1 is still as popular as ever. Like a time capsule buried decades ago, Partners Stephen Kavanagh, Stevie Ryder and my mate Dwayne Williams have gathered their personal pristine collection of 150 Air Maxs out of the archives — putting the ultimate Air Max out to defrost.
1987 The icon is the first UK exhibition of its kind displaying fresh artwork inspired by a rare collection of Air Max 87s. It pays homage to Tinker Hatfield and the Air Max 1. Initially a one day exhibition on Saturday 12 October 2013, it drew an eclectic crowd of like-minded enthusiasts who came to share their love of art, trainers and music. It was also represented by uplifting new clothing label MOST hiii, who gave away goody bags — essential to anyone who cares about their street style credentials.
I’ve been to many art exhibitions, but this one was fresh out the box. Located in East London’s Old Street: Blackall Studios was the perfect place to display a vast array of trainers and art; and then stroll down into a club area complete with strobe lighting, a bar and a DJ booth. No socially awkward gallery silences despite everyone being there for the same reason. This exhibition was kicking, and socially, it was quite fun. The first day was a success, enabling the guys to open to the public for two more days.
The concept for this exhibition has spanned five years in the making with the lads describing it as “A labour of love”. These guys know their stuff, too. Stephen is a material expert working for Mulberry in London, Stevie is a serious trainer collector and the CEO of Foot-Balla and Dwayne is also a serious trainer collector, a teaching assistant working with challenging young people, an artist and a graphic designer.
As a brand, Nike and the swoosh logo embodies health, innovation, motivation and success. Coupled with its universal and intensely personal slogan JUST DO IT, it sets a challenge to consumers of the brand to aspire to greatness. Those involved in creating 1987 The icon took up the Nike challenge and can proudly say, “We Did It”.
Click here for the interview with Dwayne ‘Van Willjamz’ Williams: http://illumaink.co.uk/1987theicon-interview-with-dwayne-williams/
N.B gallery contains explicit imagery.