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Nike Dunk – How the Basketball Sneaker Hit the Streets

Hardly any silhouette has been as coveted lately as the legendary Nike Dunk. It’s as if people are completely losing sight of Nike’s other silhouettes. Everyone would like to have a Dunk, in preferably every colourway, to perfect every outfit with the help of the classic. But what kind of sneaker is it, and why are Dunks so popular at the moment? After all, the shoes have been around since 1985! We did a little research and took a look at the story and the big change of the Dunk. Have fun!


Now, we see a lot of Nike Dunk Lows on the streets, and you might actually think that the first Dunks started out as low-cut. But in fact, they were high-cut sneakers in the beginning. Peter Moore, who by the way is also responsible for the Air Jordan 1, was the creative mind behind this distinctive silhouette, and he didn't call the sneakers "Dunk High". Back then, they were known as "College Colour High" and were purely basketball sneakers.

And that's where we've already arrived at the first models. For the first sneakers, Nike took inspiration from America's twelve leading basketball schools, including the University of Michigan, Iowa, Kentucky, and Georgetown. The Nike Dunk Highs quickly became a symbol of team spirit and shortly afterwards, they were given the name "Be True to Your School", which ultimately also formed the collection.

Later, however, people quickly realised that the Dunks could also look very good off the court. At the end of the '80s, some Dunks made their first appearance in the film "School Daze" by Spike Lee in the iconic pyjama party scene. After a few years, many fans and skateboarders then realised that the sneakers were also perfect for skating. With the big skate boom, more and more skaters relied on the comfortable midsole, the low shape with high stability, and the extremely good grip of the outsole. Nike quickly recognised the trend and developed its own line for skateboarding. The story of the Nike SB Dunk can be found in another article.

Nobody could have guessed that the demand for the Dunks would be so great. That's why Nike re-released the original colours of the Nike Dunk "Be True to Your School" collection in 1998. In 1999, the first collab with the music group Wu-Tang even followed. The Wu-Tang x Nike Dunk High is still one of the best and most expensive editions ever released. Some fans are even willing to pay reseller prices of €12,500 for a pair.

Where Does the Design of the Nike Dunk Come from?

We already know that the Nike Dunk Low and High are true legends. But where does the big fame around the silhouettes come from? Is it because of Peter Moore, who designed other ingenious sneakers years later, or are there other reasons for the hype? One important component is definitely the unique and unmistakable design of the shoes. The Dunks are inspired by their "big brother", the Nike Air Force 1. The classic already had a big influence on other silhouettes, and the designer is said to have used some elements from the AF1, as well as some of the DNA from the Air Jordan 1.

Nike SB and Travis Scott Release a Dunk Low

In recent years, the Beaverton-based brand has released numerous ingenious colourways and thus permanently ensured an elevated hype level. But Nike has not only released sneakers on their own, but also with other labels. A very important part of this collab series was a brilliant collaboration in 2020, when Nike SB and Travis Scott released a Dunk Low with a wear-away upper. Since that day, the focus of sneakerheads, hypebeasts, and other fashion enthusiasts has been felt even more on the Nike Dunks. Incredible Dunks were also created with other partners like Off-White and Supreme, and they were completely sold out after only a few seconds.

2021: the Nike Dunk Becomes More and More Popular

The year 2020 was marked by countless Nike Dunks, and you could actually say that fans have had enough of the silhouette by now, right? But that's not the case at all, because new releases are still immediately sold out shortly after their release. The eternal battle for Nike Dunks continues in 2021. The label with the Swoosh is releasing the Nike Dunk "Be True to Your School" again after more than 20 years and thus attracting even more sports fanatics and retro lovers. Added to that are the leaks from insiders that keep us happy. In the new year, we can expect Nike to have more iterations in store. Some rumours have already been confirmed and scheduled. Check out our release calendar or the Grailify app, and make sure you don't miss another Dunk release.