The Potato Shoe for Anyone But The Couch Potatoes.
The 4th floor of the Michael Jordan building on Nike’s campus is where all the footwear design happened and while Tory was in the APE group. He got wind that NIKE was working on a shoe for the extreme athletes. In this case, extreme meant all those athletes that had specialized footwear like cyclists and snowboarders, or didn’t need footwear like surfers. Also, contextually important was Tory’s colleague in the APE group was working on FIT (a highly prescriptive problem). While not a surfer, Tory grew up in southern California and attempted to surf a few times.
“You get up early at 4AM and get to the beach before the waves are blown out, and it’s cold. What you need is a “before and after” shoe.”
“Design wise it sure would be fun to do something that was the opposite of most of Nike’s shoes… something made of one piece that appeared the opposite of a prescriptive fit.”
Tory grabbed fellow designer Steve MacDonald’s outsole to put on his “off-book” upper. It looked sort of like a Sharpe dog but with the four ventilation holes it looked more like a baked potato. The “Air Ida” was born. Steve, Tory and a lot of the 4th floor designers advocated it be built. It was and Heinz, owner of the Ore-Ida brand, threatened to sue. This was great PR. The name was changed to Air Moc and it’s still in the line.