The Story of Dunk: A Complete Comeback of 2020’s Hottest Sneaker

4 Mins read

The Nike Dunk has made its rounds around the culture, riding the test of time — from its high peaks in the ’80s to its momentary bounce back in the early ’00s. Looking back at the past year, there is no doubt that the Dunk has made a complete comeback once more.

Yet, with every success story, there is always an underlying rough past. With the Nike Dunk originally created for basketball players, it has since turned out to go much further than that, hitting the streets into the world of skateboarding and now surfacing as a cultural phenomenon.


SB Dunk Phenomenon

Nike understood how significant the Dunk was in the skateboarding community. Approaching the subculture with caution — as there was a natural mistrust for large corporate entities — the company aimed to learn more about the culture. It was in that journey, the first Nike Dunk SBs came to be, with the initial releases aptly named after famous skateboarders: The Reese, The Gino, and Danny Supa.

Constructed with a fat tongue, zoom airbag sock liner, and colours that were off the ball, these initial Nike Dunk SB releases exploded on the streets. Sneakerheads, skateboarders, and average consumers alike ran after the SB Dunks as if they were gold, with everyone wanting a piece of this newfound pie.

Nike rolled out the Dunk by relationship building with skate shops — as they were the backbone of the skateboarding community — and eventually, the distribution of every newly released Nike Dunk was through these shops alone. This not only gave the shop owners an opportunity to stand out from their neighborhood and compete against the bigger stores, but it also helped build more trust between the skateboarding community and Nike itself. In an age where social media was not prevalent, skateboard shops acted as the gatekeepers for Nike, helping put the latest and hottest sneakers out into the market and creating the craze and demand.

Shop Nike Dunk Low

An Age of Collaboration & Customization

By the early 2000s, Nike realized that the future was all about collaboration. When you give people the opportunity to draw their own canvas, this is the chance to express yourself and share a story that others may not know. It was this realization that truly transformed the Dunk into what it is today.

In 2002, Supreme — one of the kings of collaboration — released their Dunk Low, bringing forth a set of silhouettes that would help Supreme solidify its place in the sneaker world via collabs.

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Nike continued to open their brand to the world, giving customers the chance to design their own as well. In fact, as part of their Nike By You program, the company will soon be offering customers the freedom to design their own Nike Dunks, an initiative they have brought back with the new resurging popularity of the silhouette.

Create your own Nike Dunk Low with Nike By You | Sneakerjagers

Image via Sneaker Jagers

More than a shoe, the Dunk is a means of expression. From artists to skateboarders, the Nike Dunk has remained in pop culture through the decades — despite its ups and downs — and a large part of that may be contributed to this age of collaboration.

Stay True To You

The SB’s were like the sole fashion skating shoe for any crew from the streets of Chicago to New York. Whether it was the west or south, kids of all ages wore the Dunks, with hot celebrities and skaters repping their love for the silhouette by wearing their own. 

From activism to charity, Dunks represented the unification of all the different ideas within the skate, street art, design, fashion, and music. It was a collection of ideas and self-expression, rolled up into a single silhouette. 

Nike Dunk became a symbol of collaboration and creativity. Wearing them alone meant you were part of something bigger than yourself and immediately helped you belong into a grander crew of sorts. It gave you a special sense of ownership in your identity and that is exactly why many believe the Dunk has lasted for this long. 

The Complete Comeback of Nike Dunk

From falling into the sideline pile of shoes in underground sneaker shops to returning as one of the most marketable sneakers today, it would be an understatement to say that the Nike Dunk has made a complete triumphant comeback. 

The collaborative effort of Nike has helped Nike Dunk become what it is today. From Virgil Abloh to Travis Scott, the Dunk silhouette has hit the pages of influential publications, social media, and everywhere else throughout the last few years.  

Shop Nike Dunk Low

Throughout 2020, there have been plenty of hot releases that the sneaker space cannot forget. From the Civilist Berlin x Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Heat Map Thermography’ to the Ben & Jerry’s x Nike SB Dunk Low Pro ‘Chunky Dunky,’ there are plenty of unforgettable drops that have come out this year. Along with Nike’s own six-part series on the Nike Dunk itself, it goes without saying that the Nike Dunk has leaped into the upper echelon of sneaker status, cementing itself as one of most iconic sneakers in the modern era. 

Shop Nike Dunk Low

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