Who is Tobie Hatfield?

Who is Tobie Hatfield?

Many of us know legendary Nike designer Tinker Hatfield, but who exactly is Tobie Hatfield?

Tobie Hatfield remembers his first conversation with Phil Knight (co-founder of Nike). Hatfield had just been hired by Nike and he asked Knight what exactly he expected from him. "I want you to take risks, but don't take stupid risks," Knight said, according to Hatfield, brother of Nike designer Tinker Hatfield – that’s right, they’re brothers!

- Nike Presto, 2000

Twenty-six years later, Hatfield is still a Nike employee, and his job hasn't changed that much. Except for the fact that he's now athlete projects innovator, which is a long way of saying he takes BIG risks.

The Hatfield duo were both pole vaulters, along with Bill Bowerman (founder of NIKE) who was his coach at the University of Oregon.  Bowerman managed to make Hatfield his first pair of custom track shoes. Bowerman took X-rays of his feet so he knew where the best place would be to place the spikes. That was his first brush with the Nike model of the designer working very closely with the athlete to improve their equipment and performance, albeit as an athlete. But seeing Bowerman work like that first hand left an incredibly strong impression on Hatfield.

- Nike FREE 5.0, 2004

After college Hatfield continued with his pole vaulting career for a couple of years but after several injuries later he decided to move into coaching. Hatfield joined Nike in 1990, and began working with materials initially, then shoe development, then engineering and after several years he got involved with design. The first notable project he worked on was the gold track shoe worn by Michael Johnson at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, in which he won two gold medals in the 200 and 400 sprints – this was the design that jolted his career off to a great start!

I doubt they’ve ever had this discussion because the last thing you ever want to talk about with your siblings is work, but one would like to think that at some point in their lives Tinker and Tobie Hatfield have gotten into bragging competitions about who has designed better and more influential shoes. 

- Nike FREE Flyknit 3.0, 2014

As many of you know, Tinker Hatfield is a pure genius when it comes to designing shoes like the Air Jordan and Air Max silhouettes. While Tobie is no slouch after dropping the Nike FREE (think about the hundreds of versions and colourways of FREE out there).  It's safe to say this sibling duo will go down as one of the greats for Nike and their design innovation.

- Nike FREE 5.0 insole, 2004