2020 was supposed to be the year of the Nike Air Max 90. We celebrated 30 years since the creation of this extremely iconic and significant model for the sneaker and street culture. And although we saw dozens of OG releases under the name Air Max III, which was actually the original name of the shoes, somehow the 30th birthday of the ’90s was left in the background, overshadowed by the big boom of the year around another, less established model – Nike Dunk.
Undoubtedly, Dunk is an integral part of Nike’s DNA. This is one of the few shoe models in the world that has left a lasting impression on the various subcultures in society. From basketball, through skateboarding and streetwear, to the present day, when the hype around the model can easily be compared to that around the release of the limited Air Jordan 1, and to get a pair of this model is a reason for a banquet. I’m sure that a very small part of the people in Macedonia who have won the opportunity to buy one of all the countless colors and collaborations of Nike Dunk, which came out last year, are interested and really know the story around the model and what it really is, its contribution. Most people want it because it’s a hype shoe right now because Travis Scott wears them, because Virgil Abloh touched it, or because they can take $100 from them by reselling them in one of the Facebook sneaker groups.
So let’s take a quick lesson in Nike Dunk’s history before moving on.
Nike Dunk High was born in the 80’s as a series of basketball shoes designed for the basketball teams of some of the largest colleges in the United States – University of Michigan, University of Kentucky, University of Lowa, Georgetown, Syracuse, St. John’s and UNLV. Behind the idea of creating the model is Nike’s desire to recreate the energy of college basketball matches in the form of a new model of shoes. Thus, combining the silhouettes of three key models of the brand (Nike Legend, Nike Terminator and Nike Air Jordan 1) in its design, in 1985 Nike Dunk High appeared on store shelves. This is the first basketball model of the brand, which comes in several different colors, allowing not only players but also fans to declare their affiliation with their favorite college team.
Unfortunately, the fame of the model did not last long, because then Nike preferred to invest more in Michael Jordan and his model. This leads to a decline in its sales and thus its suspension from production. So from the shelf with the latest and most sought-after shoes, Nike Dunk quickly becomes a discount model that you can find in the pile of discounted shoes at the bottom of the store. This, of course, doesn’t always mean something bad and in this case, the model finds its new fans – the skaters.
The low price and the fact that Nike Dunk is a high leather shoe with a straight sole, with which you perfectly feel the skateboard under your feet, makes it one of the most preferred shoes for skaters in the United States in the early ’90s. Thus, the model reaches other segments of society, closely related to skateboarding, such as hip-hop, punk rock, and the hardcore scene.
A few years later, thanks to Footaction (one of the largest shoe store chains in the United States) and Nike’s West Coast representatives, Nike Dunk’s first skate version, the Dunk Pro B, was born, – thick tongue. This option fits perfectly into the ideology of skateboarding and quickly became a favorite among skaters.
Over time, the brand realized what an integral part of Nike Dunk is from the skate community and how great the model’s contribution is to the development of this sport. Thanks to an in-depth study of this part of the culture and a partnership with several big names in the skate scene, Nike created Dunk SB – a new version of the model with a thick tongue, a Zoom system in the sole, and various crazy colors. As this is an all-skate model, Nike wanted it to be sold in only a select few skate shops around the world. Combined with big names like Eric Koston and Paul Rodriguez under his wing, this further contributes to the model becoming even more popular and sought after.
Self-expression has always been at the heart of Nike Dunk – to claim that you belong to a team, sport, community or subculture. This gives Nike the idea to partner with different people, brands and stores that profess the same ideology. Thus were born the iconic collaborations with Staple, Supreme, Diamond Supply, Stussy, Undefeated, MF Doom, Unkle, Concepts, Futura 3000 and many others.
So we come to today. After so many iconic colors and collaborations in 2020, such as Ben & Jerry, The Grateful Dead, Staple (again), Supreme (again) and many others, I have the feeling that people who are directly interested in the sneaker culture are fed up with the same models that come out every week. 2020 was definitely not the year of Air Max 90, but the year of Air Jordan 1 and Dunk, High or Low. Every second burst was for either one or the other model. This, in my opinion, to some extent leads to the cultural devaluation of the model and its transformation into another shoe, from which resellers will make money from the little hypebeasts who have no idea what they’re wearing on their feet.
However, will the hype last in the coming months or will only a handful of OGs remember with nostalgia the days when we wore Nike Dunk? We will live, we will see, as the Russian brothers said.
Meanwhile, there are several super fresh Dunk releases coming up, such as a few monochromatic colors from Dunk Low Disrupt, Beach Baroque Brown from Animal Pack and Dunk Low Michigan and UNC Blue, which are certainly not to be missed.