The Nike Dunk
One of the most popular Nike sneaker models of all time, the Nike Dunk sports a simple yet incredibly versatile design and is known for its colour-blocking style. The silhouette has come a long way from its original purpose as a college basketball sneaker and has been fully embraced as a streetwear staple.
It was the former Creative Director Peter Moore who first sketched out the Nike Dunk, using inspiration from previous Nike models.
The Nike Dunk High was first seen in 1985, released as a high-top basketball sneaker and created from four previous Nike models – The AJ1, the AF1, the Terminator and the Legend. It was the Air Force 1 that inspired the model’s overall look, with the outsole copying the same traction, but the upper was a mix of the Air Jordan 1 and the Terminator, while the Legend was used to create the moulds.
Although Moore first called the model the ‘College Color High’, he changed his mind at the last minute as the 40th anniversary of the first slam dunk coincided with the release of the model, and he decided to honour the event with the ‘Nike Dunk’.
While the Nike Dunk was made for basketball and designed to accommodate tactics such as pivoting and blocking, the model actually became known more for it’s first marketing campaign, ‘Be True To Your School’.
‘Be True To Your School’ gave Division I college basketball teams and their fans a way to wear their team’s colours, with each Dunk colorway focusing on a specific team’s colours. The basketball teams of the University of Iowa, University of Kentucky, University of Michigan, St. John’s, Syracuse, UNLV and Georgetown all wore the Dunk High as their official shoe. Proving to be a smart move on the part of Nike, the ‘BTTYS’ series became a defining trademark of the Nike Dunk.
In the early 1990s, the model had fallen out of favour, meaning that the Dunk could be snapped up for cheap. Combined with subtle updates Nike made to the model that included a new nylon tongue, which made the sneaker more comfortable and lightweight, and the fact that the Dunk was durable, easily styled, and came in many different colorways, the Nike Dunk was adopted lovingly by skateboarders. The popularity of the sneaker in skate culture led to the creation of the Nike SB brand in 2002, and the Nike SB Dunk.
Although the hype around the model waned, 2020 saw a massive revival of the Nike Dunk on its 35th anniversary, as collabs with Virgil Abloh’s Off-White brand and Travis Scott did a lot to bring the silhouette back on the scene. It’s now once again highly sought-after by sneaker fans and fashion fans alike.
Upon release, Nike Dunks retail for around €100.
Generally, the Nike Dunk does fit true to size. As they’re a little wider than average Nike sneakers, if you have wide feet, you shouldn’t need to size up.