Brett’s official recap.
Let me first start off by saying how much of an honor it was to be at this event. When I started this column nearly two years ago, I would have never anticipated that it would take me to so many places. So thank you to everyone that helped me get there and during the event: John, Josh, Cindy, Rob, Jenna, Brian, Peter, Tom, Tinker, and for the many others that I am forgetting I am sorry.
The event was amazing. For me it was a true melting pot of culture. One of the dinners I went to felt like the United Nations of Footwear was holding council at Ping’s in Chinatown. It was unbelievable to meet so many people that had the exact same interests as me. Coming from the design world where I spend the bulk of my time, it was refreshing to meet so many people that didn’t consider their peers as competition but more as counterparts, all down with the same love. Footwear.
Check out my breakdown of the event below with photos that were taken by me and also by the Jordan Brand media team. Stay tuned this week for my breakdown of the Air Jordan 2012 in my Design Insight interview with Tom Luedecke and Tinker Hatfield! It was amazing.
The day started with breakfast in the hotel where I had a great discussion about hip-hop and met Tyler The Creator’s high school music teacher (what up, Jacques). We were scheduled to leave for the event at 10 a.m. but it was pushed to 10:30. Instead of going back up to my room and chilling, I chose to hang out in the lobby and I am glad I did. Tinker Hatfield, accompanied by Tom Luedecke, approached me to introduce himself. Meeting him was hands down one of the greatest moments of my young career. I don’t even know how it happened but we managed to have nearly a 20 minute conversation about Apple and their design group. It was great speaking one on one with the man who has not only influenced me but also the whole world. Our vehicles arrived and we rolled out to an undisclosed location.
The location turned out to be Teterboro Airport, which apparently is where you keep your private jet when it won’t fit at your house. Jordan Brand rented out a hanger there and converted it into a staging area for the next great Air Jordan shoe. As we walked in, “flight attendants” checked us in to our “flight.” There was a little bit of wait, which allowed me to meet many other members of media. I must say I was very impressed with the amount of people that were there. For the most part every media member was from NYC but I was surprised by the variety of media outlets, like V and GQ. Then we were ushered into the stage area where we took our seats. I took a seat in the front row.
It was at this moment I realized I was here for a job, primarily because everyone started pulling out multiple cameras and recording devices to document everything. I was packing very lightly compared to everyone with just an iPhone 4S. I instantly took note to buy a legit camera but the phone worked great.
The event started with a highlight reel of MJ doing what MJ did like no one else that then transitioned into the current stable of Jordan Brand talent — Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade. Then came out Keith Houlemard, President of the Jordan Brand, to introduce the product. He really drove home the key point of the brand and their focus on innovation, and introduced the 27th shoe in the Air Jordan line. After that came Tom Luedecke and Tinker Hatfield. Those two spent the next 40 minutes describing the inspiration, the process, the performance, and the customization of the shoe. It was a phenomenal presentation.
I really saw what is special about the shoe. Tinker and Tom captured the truest essence of collaborating on this product. Tinker seemed to provide the art direction of the shoe by being inspired by Jazz music and Zoot shoes, and combining that bold look with the traditional and iconic wing-tip to provide a unique aesthetic for the shoe. What Tom provided was the performance. He had been working on the idea of modular footwear for nearly four years and this shoe is the culmination of that. Not only was the collaboration of these two necessary to create a great product but also the collaboration between the consumer and the footwear became special because you are able to craft a shoe that is true to you.
The most surreal moment of the event was during the question and answer session when somebody asked Tinker something along the lines of “how challenging was it to balance the engineering of the shoe with the aesthetics of the shoe?” Tinker began to answer the question and then stopped and said “…maybe it’s a little bit more like the automobile industry. I know Brett is here, Brett Golliff from GM. Where are you, Brett? Big star. There you are right up front. I know he could tell you a lot about the engineering and the designers trying to collaborate.” It was an unbelievable moment to me and definitely the highlight of my trip!
After that, we were ushered into the next room where we were provided with our luggage for the event. We received the beautifully crafted Cole Haan x Jordan “Weekender bag,” which contained the AJ2012 and some other goods in it. The other goods would come in handy in a matter of minutes because we had to change into them to take part in the wear testing of the shoe. Wear testing was more like an ass kicking because they brought in Idan Ravin, who is Chris Paul’s personal trainer, to take us through a “light” 90 minute workout. After about an hour I stopped and it gave me time to have a one on one interview with Tom and Tinker for my forthcoming CounterKicks Design Insight column.
I also was able to spend some in-depth time with the Nike iD studio to really see what this shoe is about. Seriously, it is less about iD-ing and more about crafting a unique product for you. You will be impressed with all of the options.
The rest of the day was spent in casual conversation with Tinker and Tom, and playing basketball. What more can you ask for?
Jordan 2012 launch event: SUCCESS!
Brett Golliff is a Lead Designer at General Motors and former Designer at New Balance.