Welcome to the Nike SB Dunk renaissance

Alex Hanks, Opinion Editor

Illustration by Alex Hanks

When you reflect on the evolution of fashion, the rise of sneaker culture tends to be one of the first of the many facets of the industry that comes to mind. Over the years, outfits slowly shifted from being built from the top down to the bottom up. While it is evident that Michael Jordan ignited the passion and craze behind sneakers, the counterculture skateboarders built soon offered them a seat at the table when it came to what fashion enthusiasts everywhere would have on their feet.

Nike was never considered a part of the skateboarding niche. During a time when Jordan and Nike’s sportswear collection was a dominant aspect of their business model, the skateboard sneaker market would continue to remain dominated by brands like DC and Etnies. Although support for a Nike skater shoe was underwhelming at best, the Oregon-based company went on to launch the Nike SB collection in 2002.

The Nike SB Dunk model became a staple in the collection and one of the most sought-after sneakers to date. The Dunk model takes a similar shape to that of the Jordan 1 model: Basic pairs are made with high quality, soft leather and use two dominant colors. The Dunk was clearly engineered for skating, evidenced by its durable and cushioned feel.

We are currently living in a Nike SB Dunk renaissance, as new releases are selling out in a matter of seconds. This is probably due to the sneaker’s universal appeal. As previously stated, the shoe draws inspiration from a prominent basketball sneaker. In a sense, this bridged the gap between skater culture and basketball culture.

The shoe is so popular because it remains interesting due to its constant collaborations with different artists, designers and even companies. Earlier this year, Nike released their collaboration with Ben & Jerry’s, and the Chunky Dunky went viral, skyrocketing in resale value. The shoe, lined with cow print, vivid green grass and blue skies, fit the theme of the popular ice cream company.

According to sneaker publication “Sole Collector,” a shoe like the Chunky Dunky would typically cost Nike $28.50 to make. The sneaker was released on the Nike SNKRS app for $100 MSRP, selling out in a matter of seconds. But it doesn’t stop there. The accessibility of third-party sneaker-selling apps such as Goat and StockX blew the sneaker market apart, resellers gouging the prices by ignorantly high margins. 

As I look on the Goat app today, a Chunky Dunky in my size, a men’s 10.5 US, is currently going for $1,599. A shoe that could potentially add up to the cost of two months’ rent got me thinking about other interesting and valuable Dunks more under the radar.

Out of curiosity, I clicked the “price high-low” tab, only to find that Nike SB released a Dunk Low Pro model in collaboration with Freddy Krueger. A size 9.5 is currently going for $20,000 pre-owned. The 2007 model featured a toe box that drew inspiration from Freddy Krueger’s horrific face and a mid panel reminiscent of the horror villain’s red and green sweater. Due to legal problems, the shoe currently has an estimated 30 pairs left in circulation. 

Nike SB Dunk Low “Grateful Dead” rendition, paying homage to the 1970s band


 Regardless of whether sneakers or skateboarding is your thing, it’s hard not to acknowledge the impact the SB Dunk has had on popular culture. There is a Dunk model for everyone, whether you are a Grateful Dead fan and want to slip on one of their three pairs from their recent collaboration or go more high end and check out the 2020 Nike x Off-White SB Dunk Low, designed by Louis Vuitton Creative Director Virgil Abloh.

Louis Vuitton Creative Director and Off-White CEO Virgil Abloh pays homage to the SB Dunk family with the Off-White Dunk Low “Michigan” colorway

While Nike’s mission to reel in generational talents to their brand has always proven successful, their ability to shift the tides and take the world by storm with a skateboarding shoe will continue to remain one of the greatest decisions in fashion history. Although resellers have completely ruined the accessibility component and, in turn, made it more difficult to enjoy the sneakers, Nike SB will always have their consumers eager to see what is next in the Dunk family.