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Insight: Nike Dunk

It's 10am and you finally get the notification you've been waiting for weeks: "SNKRS drawing is now open". Have your friends and family in a group chat to remind them to join. 10:10 rolls around and you realize at that moment you've just taken 16 L. It makes you wonder, "when did it get so hard to buy shoes?" It hasn't always been like this.

The history of the Nike Dunk :
Today, the Nike Dunk is one of the most sought-after silhouettes ever released by the company. It was originally released in 1985 as an amalgamation of three Nike sneakers: Legend, Terminator and Jordan 1 . Prior to the release of the first Dunk, most shoes produced at the time were all white or solid color. This led to the revolution known as color blocking. Rather than one solid color shoe, Nike has introduced two colorways. The campaign later became known as "Stay True to Your School". 12 different schools were lucky enough to receive special colorways of the Nike Dunk and matching apparel. The initial launch of the shoe was for basketball players from these schools, hence the name Nike Dunk. Sadly, upon release, the Dunk was quickly overshadowed by the highly sought-after Jordan 1 model.

After sending brief shockwaves through the sneaker community, the Nike Dunk was quickly forgotten. Couples began popping up in stores at discounted prices. Just as it seemed the end of the Dunk was upon us, a new consumer audience found a different use for the shoe.

The birth of Nike SB:
Just like basketball players, skaters also needed a solid shoe with good grip and ankle support. What once seemed like a fading trend has now resurfaced and is back as if it never went away. Nike was now looking to make waves in the skating community. They took it upon themselves to get feedback from as many skaters as possible and launch a shoe that would become the benchmark. Through trial and error, Nike eventually released the Nike SB Low. This was essentially a low key rendition of the Dunk silhouette. Based on feedback from countless skaters, Nike concluded that a low-top style with a puffy tongue would be the ideal change needed to make the perfect skate shoe.

The next step in the grand plan was to distribute these new sneakers to skate shops which would help bridge the gap between Nike and skate culture. A total of 12 skate shops were selected to carry these shoes, some notable ones being Atmos, Premier and FTC. Another fundamental change to the Nike SB line came when Eric Koston started working with Nike. He suggested a more streamlined tongue to offer more variety for skaters. This led to the conception of the Nike Dunk Low. As skaters around the world started taking notice of this new sneaker line, so did many other consumers who liked the look of the shoes. What started out as a way to be more inclusive for more than just basketball players has turned into a movement. Skate shops began receiving calls from across the nation, and shoes that were once widely available were now out of stock the same day they were released.

Nike has started to go from the new kids on the block in the skate scene to the leaders of the movement. The evolution of the dunk didn't end with the creation of the Nike SB. They wanted to go further by allowing skate shops to have creative control over the shoes that would be released. This has ushered in a new era in sneakers dominated primarily by brand collaborations.

In 2002, one of the most iconic Nike SB collaborations of all time was released. The Supreme Nike SB Low debuted in 3 colorways and changed the shoe game forever; this collaboration was followed by their collaboration on the hi top model a year later. The Nike Dunk, which was once thought of as just a basketball shoe, has now morphed into something much bigger. Not only were the shops getting partnerships, but really well-known skaters were getting them as well. Some notable names are Paul Rodriguez, Eric Koston and Elissa Steamer.

The Nike Dunk today:
To this day, the Nike SB silhouette gets collaborations with major corporations, artists and skaters alike. Travis Scott is among the recent icons Nike has worked with in a collaboration with SB. The Cactus Jack SB was released in February of 2020, proving that the hype is far from over.

All in all, the Nike Dunk has solidified itself as a staple in sneaker history that cannot be overlooked. The shoe was initially overshadowed by the Jordan 1 however many years later and still proves to be highly sought after. The evolution of the Nike Dunk into the Nike SB also played a key role in the shoe maintaining the attention it had. Next time SNKRS delivers you an L, just remember the hype took a long time.
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