In an era where sneakers change hands between collectors for five and even six-figure sums, it’s sometimes hard to remember when kicks weren’t a ‘grail’ item for people worldwide. 15 years ago, sneakerheads were a subculture centered in New York, LA, London, Japan and the Internet. Then, in 2002, the Nike SB Dunk was introduced by Nike’s fledgling skateboarding division, and an 80s basketball shoe ignited both the world of skateboarding and sneaker culture.
VICE Magazine had a front-row seat at the time as one of Nike SB’s very first partners. So when the 15th anniversary rolled around they had an immediate thought – make a Dunk documentary that delves into the history of the SB Dunk, and charts how we got here.
Vice found the story reflects the unique intersection of sneakerhead collectors with the skate community. Riders like Richard Mulder, Reese Forbes, Gino Iannucci, and Danny Supa helped determined the look, feel, approach and tone of the SB Dunk, in partnership with the Nike SB design team. That group quickly built a grassroots movement with skate retailers like Supreme and Huf, the nascent “hype” press of Freshnessmag.com and NikeTalk, and new Nike team riders like Brian Anderson, Wieger van Wagninen and Paul Rodriguez. Informed by the “gotta have them all” mentality of OG Japanese collector/retailers like Hidefumi Hommyo (of Chapter and Atmos), sneaker-specific boutiques like Undefeated popped up, region-specific releases were developed, and the sneaker culture your hypebeast cousin now talks about incessantly was fully established.
Today the SB Dunk is iconic, but it’s easy to forget that it’s still a skate shoe first and foremost that guys like Theotis Beasely, Sean Malto and Ishod Wair still rock religiously.