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The Story Of One Of Nike's Best Known Designs

Nike have set out on an expedition down memory lane to observe all the splendours of their quirky ‘Safari’ design. In 2016 it’s common to have athletically inspired shoes with very un-athletic aspirations, but in 1987… not so much.

Speaking about his creation on SNKRS, Tinker Hatfield says he had the feeling that ‘taking an athletic shoe and purposefully making it non athletic was a good idea’. He had envisaged a premium sneaker that went against the performance wear trend – and even drawn a mock-up – but the materials to use still alluded him. So he made good use of what must have been a strong combo of trust and free reign, booked a ticket to New York, and went wandering around hoping for something to catch his fancy.

He happened upon a top tier furniture store, and was captivated by a couch. ‘There was this couch in there that was covered in real ostrich skin’ he remembers. ‘I really ended up falling in love with this couch and the notion that here is a couch that was wildly enhanced by virtue of the material it was covered in’. The feeling stuck, and it was that dimpled sofa which informed the rounded speckle we’ve come to recognise as Nike’s iconic Safari pattern.

Although, it almost didn’t happen. ‘Fashion was still a very dirty word’ says Hatfield of the late 80s Swoosh mindstate. Only one person believed in the idea, but Tinker must be particularly persuasive because the Nike Air Safari would be released with the esteemed company via the ’87 Air Pack. The pack featured seminal silhouettes like the debut Air Max 1, Air Sock and Air Trainer 1. All models had an astounding impact, but the colourway of the Air Safari is notable for being striking enough to manifest in myriad Nike models throughout the years.

Don’t believe us? Just have a look here, there are scores of them.

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