A look at the Nike Dunk, the most popular skateboarding shoe’s older brother


Photo: Nike

The Nike Dunk was by all means a successful shoe, however since 2002, it has often been stuck in the shadows of its younger brother, the Nike SB Dunk. In 2020 though, the success of both models go hand in hand, and as we see a resurgence in the popularity of the SB Dunk, the original Dunk is not far behind.

The Nike Dunk has an entirely leather upper and can come in a standard edition, that features a high-cut, or a Low edition, that comes up no higher than the ankle. In terms of branding, there is the main Nike swoosh on the side panel, and Nike written on the heel, sole, and tongue tag. The shoe is often compared to the Jordan 1, and although they are very similar shoes, there are a few clear differences. Firstly the Nike Dunk has a different shape to the Air Jordan 1, thanks to its higher instep, and the leather panels on the back of the Nike Dunk are curved, instead of straight, like on the Air Jordan 1. The easiest way to tell the difference however, is whether or not there is a Jordan Wings logo on the ankle, as the logo only feature’s on the Air Jordan 1 and 2.

Released in 1985, the Nike Dunk was marketed as a college basketball shoe, and the first 12 colorways to release were based off of the colors of the top basketball schools in the country. This was followed by a campaign called “Be True To Your School” which advertised the Nike Dunks as a way of showing your school pride. Safe to say the campaign worked and soon the original Nike Dunk colorways were brought back by popular demand. The sneakers popularity then got even greater when the Nike SB Dunk “Iowa” started to be worn by the Wu-Tang clan, one of the biggest rap groups of all time. This was because its Yellow and Black color blocking matched the color scheme of the group, and all the free promotion from the Wu -Tang clan eventually caused Nike to join forces with them, creating the Nike Dunk “Wu-Tang.”

Then in 2002, Nike enlisted the help of Sandy Bodecker to get their Nike Skateboarding division off the ground, who discovered that skate boarders were already wearing Nike basketball shoes. He came up with the idea of making a skateboarding, or SB, version of the Nike Dunk, and by selling it in limited quantities and in skate stores, the shoes could be accepted in to skating culture. Bodecker’s idea worked perfectly, and all of a sudden the Nike SB Dunk was going places the Nike Dunk never could have dreamed of. A great example of the hysteria that surrounded the new Dunk model, was the release of the Nike SB Dunk Low “Staple Pigeon,” that was so popular, it caused a riot in New York, forcing the police to help protect those who had gotten their hands on a pair.

If you are interested in the Nike Dunk, it will return in a “University Red” and “Champ Colors” colorway, on the 12th and 24th of June respectively. It is expected to release on Nike’s SNKRS app for $100, however if you can’t wait that long, you can find old releases of the Nike Dunk on StockX and Goat right now.