The Nike SB Dunk High, a shoe that’s been collaborated over and customized hundreds of different ways, was initially a bit of a mashup itself. The Nike Dunk is a hybrid of the popular Nike silhouettes of its time. Most prominent are the Nike Terminator and the original Nike Air Jordan’s influence on the Dunks’ outsole and upper design.
Initially marketed as a way to celebrate and support your college’s colors, the Nike Dunk High partnered with 12 schools, which was great for Nike and the schools involved, but most importantly for the popularity of the Dunk. It’s in this promotion that the world was given its first glimpse of the Dunk’s versatility.
Before Nike SB and well before the Nike SB Dunks, the Dunks were being skated because they looked good and held up to the demands of skateboarding. The same attributes that made them good for basketball (great side-to-side lateral, ankle support, breathability, and durable materials like leather and grippy rubber outsoles) made them great shoes for skateboarding. It was only a matter of time before the popular Nike silhouette officially became the skate shoe you know and love.
Nike SB was launched on classic Dunk silhouettes - the first being dunks specific to Nike SB riders at the time, the Forbes, Gino, Supa, and Mulder. Since then, Nike SB Dunks have seen 127 different colorways including a ridiculous amount of collaborations, 131 variations in all. Its most noteworthy collab being the Pigeon Dunk, which is considered to be one of the most hyped sneakers ever. All this leads us to believe the most interesting characteristic of the dunk is its versatility. The Dunks iconic design and classic construction make it one of the best - the most forgiving for sure - shoe for experimental colorways and collaborations. For more on the history of the Nike Dunk, check out the Nike Dunk Turns 30 article on the Nike News Page.
The versatility and durability of the the Dunk makes it a tough shoe to improve. Nike SB designers have stuck with the classic leather upper construction and traditional tread and rubber for the outsole. The classics were improved upon when they became the Ishod Dunk which included a full-length EVA midsole, a Nike Zoom unit in the heel, a rubber outsole with pivot circle for multi-directional traction, and an overall slimmer look thanks to a thinner tongue and form-fitting collar. To test whether or not the Nike SB Dunk would work for every kind of skating, we decided to do a Wear Test with a little known skateboarder who hangs out at the office from time to time. To see how the dunks held up, check out our Nike SB Ishod Wair Test. Or you could watch Ishod skating his Dunks courtesy of the Nike SB YouTube page.
If the Dunk’s history of staying power is any indication of what can be expected for its future, we can assume Nike SB will continue to carry the Dunks and release new colorways for another 30 years to come.