If Phil Knight’s Shoe Dog has set you on a quest for extra knowledge of Nike’s early days, there’s some gold on YouTube. Nike employee #3 and University of Oregon runner Geoff Hollister was integral to pushing the company forward in its early days and made some significant moves in the 1980s too with his promo know-how and creativity (the short-lived but excellent Aqua Gear line was his brainchild) before bolstering the brand’s grassroots running projects the following decade and penning a post retirement memoir called Out of Nowhere that’s an essential supplement to Knight’s book.
Hollister passed away in 2012, but former Nike designer Bob Smith has upped an hour-long conversation with him at Nike’s world headquarters from 2004. Nerds will take home some trivia from this examination of the kind of product that the great man road-tested, handed out and oversaw in the late 1970s. In 2000, some insight from K-Bond’s James Bond (an Undefeated co-founder) and Karen Kimmel led to the Nike Sportswear White Label heritage line — a narrative led response to adidas Originals’ apparel reissues.
The early ideas were presented in a custom-built Blue Ribbon Sports store/Bowerman office replica seen here, full of vintage Nike products and deep conversations with folks like Geoff gave the end product some real authenticity. Resulting reissues like the Oregon tee and V-series graphics are some of the best tributes to classic sportswear I’ve ever seen. It was an initiative that reiterated the importance of storytelling (Bowerman being an advocate of screenprinting to save weight over rival colleges with their embroidered letters and Tinker Hatfield co-designing the Athletics West emblem are just two of the gems here) when it comes to digging in the vaults. R.I.P. Geoff Hollister.