How the Nike SB Dunk Hype Returned


Image: Bruce Hatoo

The Nike SB Dunk is one of the most iconic silhouettes to date, but in the last decade, the hype that once surrounded the model appeared to die out. That was of course until 2020, when the shoe had one of the greatest comeback stories in sneaker history, stealing headlines and evoking nostalgia in millennial skaters all over the world.

But how did such a return come about? Well, the Nike SB Dunk’s resurgence can be traced back to the Off-White Nike Dunk’s, Virgil Abloh’s rendition of the non-skateboard focused brother of the SB Dunk, but what really kickstarted the shoe’s newfound success, was the Houston rapper Travis Scott’s own Nike SB Dunk Low collaboration that dropped back in February, with a double-layered paisley upper.

Since then, the popularity of the SB Dunk has exploded, most notably with the highly publicized Ben & Jerry’s Nike SB Dunk Low “Chunky Dunky” edition that was released this June, and now fetches prices over $1000 on the secondary market. Then around a month later, the model broke the internet once again, this time in collaboration with the American rock band Grateful Dead, who helped create a pack of 3 Nike SB Dunk Lows which came in brightly colored faux fur.

But it hasn’t just been the Nike SB Dunk Low’s that have had a great year, the high-top version has also had a successful 2020, especially in the second half with its boot-like structure making it more favorable for the colder months. Possibly the most interesting pair to release this year was the Nike SB Dunk High Invert Celtics, which featured a pink and black suede upper on the lateral side, and a green and white leather upper on the medial side.

What Nike was able to do so well with the Nike SB Dunk though, was keep it true to its roots, and what made it special the first time it was released. It was the limited releases and crazy collaborations that nobody else was doing at the time that caused the SB Dunk to turn into such a popular collectible model in the 2000s, and its return has been no different.

Even more exciting however, is that it doesn’t look like the Nike SB Dunk will be going anywhere anytime soon, with plenty of hyped releases already set to drop in 2021. So, whether you have been following the model since its first appearance in 2002, or you are just hearing about it for the first time, it’s not too late to jump on the hottest sneaker trend of 2020.

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