Back in 1996, Tobie Hatfield, brother of the legendary Nike and Air Jordan designer Tinker, was in Korea for a production meeting and he hated the shoes on his feet. Everyone in the meeting had new Nike sneakers to try on, but as soon as Hatfield tried his he knew they weren’t right. “When I put the shoe on and stood up, the collar splayed out,” he recalls. That moment catalyzed a four year odyssey that would ultimately result in the creation of one of Nike’s most innovative sneakers: the Air Presto.

What Hatfield wanted to do at the beginning was pretty simple: create a sneaker that fit immaculately and was incredibly comfortable. But that was impossible to achieve with the way that Nike was making sneakers at the time. Even sneakers like the Huarache that were designed and constructed in the most contemporaneously unconventional ways were limited in their flexibility because of the constraints of leather and mesh brought together with stitching. Eventually, the search for the sneaker that became the Presto would leave these conventions behind, but it would require that Hatfield and his team tried every other possibility before they forged their way into the future.

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