Over time, skateboarding evolved from a recreational activity into a full-fledged lifestyle – one that's birthed a multi-billion dollar industry.
Like any movement, skate culture was very insular in its early stages, protected by its practitioners like a crowned jewel. However, the emergence of other subcultures rooted in similar angst birthed a natural level of connectivity with skaters, eventually building unforeseen bridges based on commonality. Pair that understanding with the death-defying acts in skateboarding, and you can see why its reach extended in popular culture.
Putting it in simpler terms, no matter how nuanced your interests ares, you, me, him, and her can all find common ground to stand on and connect.
Understanding this, Nike SB has used the Dunk model as a canvas to communicate the connectivity between skate culture and those outside of that scope.
The irony of a culture spearheaded by so-called social misfits becoming a conduit for finding common ground in obscure interests isn't a new concept by any means. We've also seen it happen in the past with Jazz, and in the most grandiose way to date with Hip-Hop.
In celebration of Skate Day, Stadium Goods selects seven SB Dunks with varied inspirations (we recognize more could've been chosen) that perfectly display the sweet spot where skate culture, pop culture, sports culture, and even global culture converge.
Zoo York x Nike Dunk Low Pro SP
Style: 305162 201
Release: June 2002
In streetwear lore, brands would kill to impact the culture like Zoo York did in the late '90s/early 2000s.
Deeply rooted in skate culture (while equally inspired by graph writing), it only made sense that Nike SB collaborated with the New York City brand's founders Rodney Smith, Eli Gessner and Adam Schatz to create a shoe with authentic DNA. The result was the Zoo York x Nike Dunk Low Pro SP, designed by Bronx native and pro skater Danny Supa.
Defined by its tumbled leather and suede construction in a Safety Paul Brown and Black colorway, the collab was cemented by Zoo York graphics that appear throughout the paneling. The release was limited to just 444 pairs.
The "Zoo York" edition Dunk Low Pro SP is completed with a gum outsole, similar to its companion pair, the Dunk Low Pro SP "Chocolates" – a dedication to late skateboarder Kennan Milton.
Supreme x Nike Dunk Low Pro SB "Cement"
Release: Black & White (September 2002)/Red (July 19, 2012)
Supreme's first-ever collaborative foray with Nike SB is a thing of sneaker legend, and easily one of the most coveted releases ever.
Enter the Supreme x Nike Dunk Low Pro SB "Cement," released exclusively at Supreme's New York City and Tokyo stores in 2002, long before the Internet caused anticipation for hot sneakers to spread like forest fires, epic lines and campouts. Its design is classic and etched in stone almost literally, as it sports a cement motif inspired by the iconic Air Jordan 3.
The Supreme Dunk Low Pro SB arrived in two colorways: a black and cement option with red accents, and a white version with cement print and blue accents. Each shoe was created in a limited run of 500 pairs.
The duo became a trifecta in 2012 when Supreme brought back the concept – this time in a red-based look. Despite being arriving 10 years, the demand for this colorway is just as crazy.
Supreme x Nike Dunk High Pro SB
Release: August 2003
Once again, it's on. Supreme connected with Nike SB for a second time a year later, again leaving its thumbprint on a Dunk SB. This time the NYC-based brand used the high-top silhouette to create a three-shoe release that references Nike's classic Be True To Your School campaign – a collection comprised of shoes mirroring the colors of iconic college sports programs.
College Orange, University Red, and University Blue colorway options receive a luxury makeover, with each featuring a textured crocodile skin-like material on the mudguard, lace placket, and heel panel. The mid-panel features an all-over print stars design in gold, with matching accents on the tongue. The look is capped off by black laces with a Supreme lace jewel.
There were rumored to be only 1000 pairs of each shoe, which could only be purchased at Supreme stores in New York and Tokyo.
Nike Dunk High Premium SB "Mork and Mindy"
Style: 313171 002
Release: September 2006
Before late, great actor/comedian Robin Williams was a world renowned talent, he was "Mork," a namesake character and one of two protagonist from the late '70s television sitcom Mork & Mindy.
The Happy Days spin-off centered around Mork, an extraterrestrial from the planet Ork, as he acclimated himself on Earth with the help of his friend, roommate, and eventual wife Mindy (played by Pam Dawber). His comedic exploits were often rooted in ignorance, as he was much more than a fish out water.
Nike SB drew inspiration from Mork's spacesuit, which sports a vibrant combination of red and metallic silver. The latter appeared on his midsection, as replicated on the Dunk High Premium SB, featuring Varsity Red on all parts of the shoe's exterior but the mid-panel and Swoosh. Silver accents the laces and inner lining, while a rainbow design appears throughout translucent outsole.
Nike Dunk Low Premium SB "Day of the Dead"
Style: 313170 801
Release: November 2006
Dia de los Muertos, the Spanish translation of "Day of the Dead," is an annual Mexican holiday recognized particularly in the Central and South regions. During the three-day event, people join in prayer, reminisce, and celebrate the lives of their deceased loved ones from October 31 through November 2.
The more celebratory aspect of the "Day of the Dead" brings to mind America's Halloween tradition. Nike SB displayed that duality on a 2006 Dunk Low Premium SB bearing the same name. Designed by Nahual (who's of Mexican descent), the upper features black suede and orange leather. Skeletons appear in a combination of white, purple, yellow, and green throughout the mudguard, lace placket, and heel panel. Purple coats the lining, while the clear outsole also sports a skeleton motif.
Nike Dunk High Premium SB "Dinosaur Jr."
Style: 313171 003
Release: February 2007
If we're being truthful, Nike SB's appreciation for nuance has segmented its customer base at times. The reason being that some concepts felt like a reach less palatable for consumers.
However, at its peak, during an early-mid-2000s run many sneakerheads consider the brand's "Golden Era," Nike SB couldn't miss, even when referencing people, places, and things most folks weren't privy to. The reason being that the shoes looked that damn good. And that includes more off-kilter releases like the Nike Dunk High Premium SB "Dinosaur Jr."
Constructed with a simple tonal metallic silver upper with purple trimming, the shoe's eccentric look is akin to the Massachusetts alternative rock band that inspired it. Their logo in its signature script appears on the left heel, while the right heel features an animated character the band's longtime fans will recognize.
Founded in 1984, Dinosaur Jr. are still actively recording and touring today. Their latest album, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, released August 5, 2016.
Nike Dunk High Premium SB "MF DOOM"
Style: 313171 004
Release: July 2007
In 2007, Nike immortalized one of the greatest underground MCs on a SB Dunk. But to understand why, one must first discuss UK born, New York City-bred rhymesayer Daniel Dumile, who can teach a master class on rebranding.
At 17-years-old, he emerged as Zev Love X, a member of rap group KMD with his blood brother DJ Subroc and Onyx the Birthstone. Their debut album Mr. Hood arrived in 1991 in an era when age had little ramifications on an MC's lyrical prowess. Masterful with the wordplay, its songs feature comical commentary on topics like racism and black empowerment, with Zev handling most of the heavy lifting in regards to vocal performance.
Unfortunately, the untimely death of his brother Subroc (struck by a car and killed in New York City) and Elektra Records shelving KMD's sophomore LP, Black Bastards, sent Zev into a downward spiral that made him a recluse.
From the ashes, Dumile arose in the late '90s with a new moniker, MF DOOM. "Recovering from his wounds" and swearing revenge "against the industry that so badly deformed him," DOOM embodied the role of villain – clad in a Doctor Doom-inspired mask and armed to a tee with lyrical darts. He managed to get on Nike's radar by the mid-2000s, after an epic eight year run of album releases that included solo triumphs (Operation: Doomsday (1999), Mm.. Food (2004)); lauded instrumental projects (Special Blends 1+2 (2004)); and a collaborative masterpiece (Madvillainy with producer Madlib (2004)).
The aptly coined Nike Dunk SB High "MF DOOM" are as intricately woven together as DOOM's eccentric rhyme pattern, flow, and persona. Designed by Frenel Morris, the upper is constructed with a combination of black nubuck, grey leather, grey nubuck and grey ostrich. 3M Piping lines the upper while a metallic silver tongue featuring DOOM's patented mask appears on the tab.
Red laces, DOOM branding on the ankle of the shoe, and clear soles encompassing artwork from the rhymeslinger's faux-comic storyline show that Morris and Nike took extra care with these.