A brief history: The Nike Dunk
Making a name for itself over the past few years, Peter Moore’s creation has become a streetwear cult classic. With its debut on NCAA courts in 1985, the Nike Dunk revolutionised the footwear game. After an illustrious b-ball career, it found its way into subcultural trends worldwide, where it remains one of the most sought-after silhouettes.
Released as a high-rising sneaker with the design borrowing notes from the Air Force 1, the recently resurged Terminator, the Legend plus the Air Jordan 1 - the Dunk gained popularity on the courts because it was geared towards athletes and accommodated moves such as pivots.
Initially billed as the ‘College Color High’ during the surge of college basketball popularity, Nike introduced the ‘College Colors Program’, which painted the Dunk in 12 colourways to match some of the top schools across the US, encouraging fans to dress in the colours of their favourite college basketball team with its ‘Be True to Your School’ tagline. The 'Kentucky' colourway from 2020 is an example of one of these affiliated colourways that have been re-released since then.
However, the shoe took a back seat after the AJ1 dominated the courts. But as it offered cushioned comfort, durable support and traction as well as being easily styled with a cup-sole shape they were the perfect fit for skateboarders. Thanks to the ‘90s skate scene, it was the renaissance of the Dunk and it quickly became a mainstay.
Not shy of collaborations, Nike has teamed with some of the most influential designers and artists of all time. Back in 2020, Travis Scott put his spin on the silhouette with suede uppers and paisley canvas overlays. Virgil Abloh’s Off White Dunks showcased his innovation with the ‘Dear Summer’ pack - a masterpiece of 50 colourways including variations to lacing systems and mixed material uppers. Cali-based, StrangeLove Skateboards also revamped the Nike SB Dunk Low for Valentine’s Day giving the shoe a heavy velvet makeover in pink and red hues.
With harmonious colour blocking, straightforward style, and versatile shape, the Dunk has surpassed its original purpose as a sneaker for the hardwood. This basketball shoe-turned-skateboarding staple is showing no signs of slowing down. As well as being an icon of streetwear, a key element thing remains, it still unifies several subcultures all over the globe with its rich history.
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