The History of the Nike Dunk

The Nike Dunk is officially back and the legacy of one of Nike’s most iconic kicks continues. First dropping over 35 years ago, the Dunk has come a long way from its humble beginnings as a college basketball sneaker. Wanna’ know just how far?…

From droppin’ back in ’85 to the new and upcoming launches, get the full lowdown on the history of the Nike Dunk right here!

1985

The designer behind Nike’s Air Jordan 1 ‘Peter Moore’ first presented the Dunk, or as it was known back then as ‘College Color High’. It took cues from both the AJ1 and the Terminator.

1985

The trainer’s first 12 colourways all take inspiration from America’s leading schools for Basketball, including the University of Michigan, Iowa, Kentucky and Georgetown. It quickly became a symbol of the team mentality, and the pack became known as the ‘True To Your School’ collection.

1987

The Mix Crew sport the Dunk on the front cover of their latest EP, ‘Black Leather’.

1988

The cast of Spike Lee’s comedy-drama ‘School Daze’ wear the Dunk in the film’s iconic pyjama party scene.

1998

Nike re-release the Dunk’s original ‘Be True to Your School’ colourways due to popular demand. Included in the new releases was a special edition Iowa Dunk that featured ‘Wu W’ embroidered to the heel. Nike dropped just 36 pairs paying homage to Wu-Tang Clan’s album, Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), and gifted them to the group’s members. One of the most sought after Dunks even today…

2001

Nike release their first ever collaboration with a clothing retailer, presenting the Stüssy x Nike Dunk. Available in very limited numbers, the collab sneak was only available at Stüssy Chapter Stores in London, New York, Tokyo and LA. Each store could only sell 12 pairs of each colour per day, until stock ran out just over two weeks later.

2002

As the shoe continues to be adopted by skateboarders, Nike Skateboarding is officially born with the Dunk SB Low fronting its debut. This trainer was available in just four colours, one for each team rider – Richard Mulder, Reese Forbes, Gino Iannucci and Danny Supa.

2002

Later this year, Nike present a more premium take on the silhouette, launching the Supreme Dunk SB, which takes inspiration from the Air Jordan III’s cement texture. Dropping in extremely limited numbers, people queued around the block to get their hands on a pair.

2003

From its first clothing collaboration to first artist, Nike now teams up with graffiti writer and artist, Futura.

2005

Designing a limited edition Dunk exclusively for New York, design icon Jeff Staple took inspiration from the city Pigeon, producing just 150 pairs.

2007

Nike commission their first ever, full-length skate video ‘Nothing But The Truth’. Skateboarding legends including Stefan Janoski and Paul Rodriguez capture a real life insight into working amongst the Nike SB team. Featuring an all-star cast!

2012

Celebrating 10 years since their first collaboration, Nike team up with Supreme once more to release a special anniversary model of the Dunk.

2016

The Dunk has become synonymous with high fashion, worn amongst the menswear catwalks at Comme des Garçons.

2020

35 years since its launch onto the basketball scene, the Nike Dunk has become a true icon in culture -seen amongst the likes of Travis Scott, Offset and Rihanna.

Just Dropped

Inspired by the dynamic energy and team spirit of college basketball, Nike brings back the Dunk from the archives. Nodding to the OG releases, they’ve  dropped in not one, or two but three classic college colourways.

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