2020: The Reignition of the Dunks
Updated: Oct 31
In 2020 we’ve seen the hype of the Nike Dunks in a huge way – specifically the SB Dunk Low’s: Travis Scott, Ben & Jerry’s “Chunky Dunky”, and the Grateful Dead to name a few. If you would have told me two or three years ago that the SB Dunk’s would be the hottest sneaker’s in 2020 I wouldn’t have believed you, but then again if you had told me a lot about 2020 two or three years ago I wouldn’t have believed most of that either.
In 1985 the Dunk was introduced to the world. Originally designed by Peter Moore, who also designed the Jordan 1 and 2, it was a combination of the Jordan 1 and the Nike Terminator. With the discontinuing of the Air Force 1 the year prior (only to be brought back in ’86) the Nike Dunk was released at the perfect time in basketball culture.
The Dunk was Nike’s first “team” college basketball shoe and originally offered 12 colorways for the top college basketball schools. In the early to mid 80’s basketball was emerging as one of the biggest colligate sports and was gaining massive popularity because of the star power at the time, including Michael Jordan. The Dunk quickly became the biggest college basketball sneaker and the ‘Be True to Your School’ campaign made it the most desirable sneaker for fans and players alike.
In 2002 the subdivision ‘Nike SB’ was founded and led by Sandy Bodecker. Bodecker recognized that skaters were already wearing several Nike basketball sneakers (specifically the Jordan 1) and retooled the Dunk for skateboarding – thus the Nike Dunk SB was born.
However it was not that easy for Nike to become part of the growing skate scene. Nike attempted to enter the skateboarding world in the 90’s to no avail and even after Nike SB was founded they struggled to emerge as a brand in the scene. Skaters did not want to be associated with a brand that symbolized corporate America. This resulted in Nike SB’s clever and unique marketing strategy that had never been done before.
Nike SB started producing all colorways in limited numbers and only made available at select skate shops, which helped with skaters who did not want a mass produced sneaker. They gave pro skaters at the time their own colorways and began collaborating with skate shops across the country (including Supreme and Diamond Supply). These marketing techniques brought us some of the most iconic sneakers of all time: the original Supreme collaboration which offered the elephant print seen on the Jordan 3’s, the ‘Pigeon’ which is arguably the release that brought sneaker culture to mainstream attention, the ‘What the Dunk’ which combined parts of some of the most hype Dunk SB’s ever made, and so on…
This marketing strategy introduced by Nike SB created the blueprint and the hype around sneaker culture that we still see today and are currently seeing Nike use on the SB Dunks in 2020. It not only makes the sneakers limited and sought after, but adds a story and purpose to each release.