MEET THE DESIGNER
TOBIE HATFIELD: DESIGNING WITH TIGER WOODS
WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING WITH TIGER AND HOW WAS THE DEVELOPMENT OF THIS SHOE UNIQUE?
Tiger actually wants to learn the language of footwear design. I can talk to him like I’m talking to another designer. Working on the TW ’17 was the first time that we’ve really been able to focus on every single aspect of the shoe. When I first started working with him on the TW ’13, he wanted to start over completely. Creating an entirely new shoe while he was competing was one of the most difficult and challenging things I’ve done here at Nike. This is the most dialed in on footwear we’ve ever entered a season with.
HOW DID YOU APPROACH THE CREATION PROCESS?
First, we started with the upper, which we usually we don’t. Then we dialed in the plate (the spikes), then we worked on its stiffness. This process allowed us to design the TW ’17 one piece at a time. I had an idea to make a blank upper with just a simple, white synthetic upper. We made eight or nine of them, and then came up with a few configurations that could work. We went back to Jenny Monnot in pattern engineering and added the straps to that initial upper. Once the upper was dialed, we started working on the bottom. Usually, you want to start with the bottom. We did it backwards this time because the upper became the focal point after listening to Tiger.
WERE THERE ANY BIG HURDLES TO OVERCOME WHEN CREATING THIS SHOE?
The upper was the focal point because Tiger had his new swing that was now right-leg dominant. We needed something to help contain his feet as he was trying to be more explosive. Then once we landed on the strap system, a major challenge was getting the angles for the straps correct, and having them lie down flat was really difficult.
HOW DID TIGER REACT WHEN HE FIRST HEARD YOU EXPLAIN THE STRAPPING SYSTEM IDEA?
I drew a tiny sketch as we were talking about his new swing and his needs for the upcoming year. When he was done talking, I showed him the sketch of an X-strap. He was willing to give it a try: That’s what I love about Tiger. It was the simplest, easiest sketch that I could do, but he truly does understand what it takes.
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