The revenge of the Dunk: the story of Nike's most street model

2021 is certainly the year that marks the revenge of the Dunk. Like many Nike silhouettes, this special model also follows a very eventful path made of great victories and abrupt pit stops. Adapted and reimagined many times over the years, this sneaker has managed to take its place thanks to the adopted subcultures and prestigious collaborations with some of the most influential names in the streetwear universe.

Nike Dunk

But no story can be told without starting from the origins. Let's go back to 1985, the same year of birth of another legendary sneaker, the Air Jordan 1, which has always been considered its "big sister". The mind behind these two models is the same, the creator Peter Moore, who binds the two shoes to a common destiny, that of basketball. In fact, initially the name of the project was to be called “College Color High”, being a model intended exclusively for college players focused on the use of the colors of the different teams of the NCAA circuit. Thus are presented what over time became the iconic palettes of the brand, such as UNLV, Arizona, Iowa, Georgia, Syracuse, Georgetown, Kentucky, with a first advertising campaign that carried the slogan "Be True To Your School".

Nike Dunk

But as in life, even in fashion the rules are meant to be broken. The Dunks do not stop on the basketball courts but arrive, almost by chance, on the streets to conquer the skate community. They adopt this shoe as a distinctive sign to affirm their identity against the tide, almost a gesture of youthful rebellion towards the standard models designed for skateboarding. Being a skater in the 90s was not just a trend but a real lifestyle. Sandy Bodecker, founder of the Nike SB department, immediately understands this, and with his team he realizes the potential of the shoe and the ample possibilities to make it a top model for all fans. So in 2001 he recruited four of the strongest professional skaters of the moment, Reese Forbes, Gino Ianucci, Richard Mulder and Danny Supa, to create as many sneakers that made history not only for its rounded lines and its characteristic color blocking but also for their innovative technical characteristics. So the fantastic four come with a thicker tongue, the famous "big tongue" and a stronger insole to withstand bumps and falls.

Nike Dunk

If the street universe represented stability, partnerships the push towards the future. Just a young Supreme, which in 2002 was a simple NYC skate shop, has started numerous - how lucky - collaborations cultivated over time. We start with the very first Dunk SB Low Supreme Cement model, the first non-Jordan Nike to be characterized by an "elephant" print up to the most recent Supreme x Dunk SB "Stars", both Low and High, decorated with metallic gold stars on the panels side of the white upper. And again, the link with Virgil Abloh who presents the ultra-modern Dunk x Off-White University up to that with the American rapper Travis Scott with a Dunk SB model wrapped in a bandana motif. A very precious collabs sees the union of Cactus Plant Flea Market and Swarovski that overturns the classic design with precious crystals. The latest recruit is one of the most influential brands of the moment, Ambush designed by designer Yoon Ahn, with a capsule collection that exaggerates the features of the silhouette, such as the iconic oversized Swoosh that runs beyond the structure of the shoe.

Nike Dunk

In short, the Nike company goes beyond its comfort zone, drawing a line between those who continue to use shoes on the table and those in everyday life. So in the last 20 years a myriad of different colors and materials have been produced, from the most basic to the most experimental ones. Do we want to take the most particular pieces out of the wardrobe? It starts with the Dunk SB High "Strawberry Cough" which uses a playful marijuana-themed design up to the Dunk SB "Diamond Tiffany" with a crocodile style upper in bright tiffany and silver tones.

Nike Dunk

If we want to fish in the food theme, we remember the Heineken, inspired by the packaging of Dutch beer and the curious encounter with the famous American ice cream brand Ben & Jerry's, which for the occasion transforms one of the latter's most loved flavors into a Nike SB Dunk Low "Chunky Dunky". One of the craziest is definitely the one dedicated to the city of New York, the Dunk SB Staple NYC Pigeon, which sparked a real fight in 2005 in front of Jeff Staple's East Side store to get a pair of shoes with the ironic embroidered pigeon on the heel.

Nike Dunk

For those who focus on raw materials we cannot forget the Reverse Skunk 420 built entirely from a wide range of intense colored suede fabrics or the Grateful Dead Bears, a tribute to the series of dancing bears designed by Bob Thomas, defined by synthetic fur inserts by fluorescent orange, yellow and green colors. I'm sure we will see some more with this shoe, which has now become a cult object for both sneakerheads and fashion lovers.

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