Sneakers
From the ground up

It has been 13 years since the official introduction of Jeff Staple‘s classic Nike SB Dunk “Pigeon,” and during that time, Nike SBs were the more sought after silhouettes for sneakerheads, as hyper limited editions caused chaotic scenes, much like how it is today for Supreme or Yeezy drops.

Jeff Staple remembers the date well, February 22, 2005 — as he previously spoke with Justin Block to discuss the initial reception of his now iconic silhouette, which was met with riots at his retail location, Reed Space in NYC’s Lower East Side, and the impact it has made in sneaker history.

Scroll on for some of the best quotes from the interview, which you can read in full here.

…on the impact of the “Pigeon” SB Dunks.

JS: “A lot of people call this shoe the shoe that catapulted sneaker culture to the masses.”

…on where the hype for the sneaker originated.

JS: “When Nike asked me to do this, I had already designed about seven or eight shoes with Nike… , I didn’t design it with the intent of making it a hyped thing. I just wanted to make a dope thing that’s timeless… I purposefully wanted to make a shoe you could rock all the time or you can covet and put on a shelf. I think that’s why there’s extreme scarcity with the Pigeon dunk.”

…on kids knowing exact details of the sneakers release.

JS: “It’s those kids on the forums and the boards. They are so CSI knowledgeable about shit. They know stuff we don’t. We actually didn’t know when we were going to get the shipment of Pigeons into our warehouse. The day it arrived, I remember I sliced open the box and I was like, ‘Here it is!’ And then we got phone calls like immediately.”

…on seeing kids waiting in line before the release date.

JS: “Seriously, the next day, kids started pitching tents outside of our store and started waiting four days before the release in the middle of February in New York. It was blizzarding. I felt bad. Every night I would buy pizzas for the kids, because they were sleeping outside in a snowstorm for four days.”

…on the reaction of kids when the police came to break up the line.

JS: “The cops came, because there were over a hundred people now. They were like, ‘Break up the line.’ The kids were like, ‘No fucking way. I’ve been sleeping here for four days.’ The kids weren’t leaving, so the cops were like, ‘If you don’t leave the line, we’re arresting you.’”

…on how things started to escalate into a riot.

JS: “They were pulling kids off the gate and arresting them, and kids are holding onto the gate not letting go. Then it turned into a soccer match. Cops called higher level police, like SWAT, and some of the people who came to wait in line brought their own weapons. We saw machetes and baseball bats on the ground. It was crazy. It was just go to a store and buy shoes before that.”

…on sneaker culture before the riot, and how it changed after.

JS: “Before the riot, sneaker culture was underground and kind of nerdy. After that, we had investment bankers coming into the store telling us, ‘We used to buy cigars and wine. Now we’re just going to buy sneakers.’ It changed overnight.”

…on more of the aftermath and receiving new clientele.

JS: “I was absorbing the changes as it was happening and processing it myself. I remember Timberland came into the store the next day [after the riot] and asked, ‘Who’s responsible for that Nike shoe that just came out yesterday? We want a riot too.’ It was like ordering fries at a restaurant: ‘We would like a riot.’

When the riot happened with me, it was organic. Even Nike was like, ‘What the fuck is going on?’”

For additional details, be sure to read the full story on Medium.

Last year, Nike celebrated the “Pigeon” dunks by releasing the “Black Pigeon” version of the silhouette, so check out a recap of the drop below.

Words by Renz Ofiaza
Staff Writer

Renz Ofiaza is a Staff Writer at Highsnobiety and based in Brooklyn.

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