A lot has been made about Nike SB’s Dunk revival over the past 18 months. While it certainly can be argued that the silhouette is at its most popular since its heyday in the mid ’00s, when SB Dunks were as coveted as high-fashion collaborations are now, the silhouette hasn’t really taken over. At least not quite like many thought it would.
Still, there are a number of sneakerheads that haven’t given up on the Nike SB Dunk just yet. One such sneakerhead is Travis Scott, a Nike-signed celebrity himself with a growing collection of exclusive collaborations. For just over a year, Dunks have been a mainstay on Travis Scott’s feet, both during on-stage performances, such as the time he wore Freddy Krueger Dunks while performing "Sicko Mode" with Drake and LeBron James, and on his Instagram feed, which is littered with SB Dunk fit pics.
Nike, too, has revamped its once-storied SB division, rehiring former SB designer James Arizumi to lead the division in late 2018. Hyped collaborations with the likes of Supreme, Diamond Supply Co., and CNCPTS followed, as the Swoosh continued to make a concerted effort to bring the Nike SB Dunk back from the dead. And it’s worked, kind of. We’re now seeing more “high heat” Nike SB Dunk collaborations than in previous years but due to changing trends and consumer behavior, the Dunk is no longer the quintessential shoe it was in the ’00s.
That is where Travis Scott comes in. His recent loyalty to the SB Dunk is likely a mixture of genuine appreciation for the silhouette and a push by Nike for its most marketable asset to wear a model it is in the midst of relaunching. Even if the latter part of that statement is true, the sheer quantity, let alone the quality, of SB Dunks Travis Scott has been wearing makes him one of the silhouette’s biggest proponents.
One of the rarest SB Dunks in La Flame’s collection is the aforementioned “Freddy Krueger” Dunk Low, which was manufactured in 2007 only to never officially be released, due to alleged legal reasons. Rumor has it, that representatives from The Nightmare on Elm Street instructed Nike to destroy any samples made. Some, of course, made it out alive and now fetch a small fortune on the secondary market.
Travis Scott has also worn both colorways of 2002’s Supreme x Nike SB Dunk lows. For the collaboration, Supreme chose to take the elephant detailing from the Nike Air Jordan 3 and apply it to its Dunk collab. This was the first time the pattern was re-appropriated in such a way.. Only 500 pairs were released and the collaboration has since become one of Supreme’s most-coveted sneakers, regardless of brand or silhouette.
La Flame hasn’t only been wearing older releases, stepping out in CNCPT’s purple and green “Lobster” Nike SB Dunk lows. The two colorways were released in 2018 and were an extension of 2009’s CNCPTS x Nike SB Dunk Low “Blue Lobster.” Similarly, Nike tapped several of its OG collaborators during the relaunch of the Dunk Low in 2018 and 2019. Supreme collaborated on a trio of SB Dunk Lows for FW19, while Diamond Supply Co. revived the “Tiffany” Diamond Dunk with a trio of new colorways in late 2018.
Mixed into Scott’s impressive collection are also a few general release Dunks, such as the “Homer” colorway from January 2004, which got its name due to the color scheme aligning with Homer Simpson’s skin tone and outfit, the “Del La Soul” High from 2015, and the Dunk High “Easter.” None of these pairs are as coveted as the aforementioned collaborations, showing that it’s not all about the hype for Travis.
Yet in spite of all that support, the Nike SB Dunk has failed to penetrate the market in the way the Nike Air Force 1 or Nike Air Jordan 1 has. The latter saw 60 drops in 2018 and is still going strong with both general releases and collaborations routinely selling out in 2019. The Nike Air Force 1’s iconic status needs no explanation. Of course, those two sneakers have roughly 15 to 20 years on the Dunk but let’s not forget that the Dunk has been around 17 long years itself.
Sometimes relaunches don’t pan out the way they were planned. Maybe Nike never wanted the Dunk SB to reach the heights it did in the ’00s, however, that seems unlikely. For now, though, it’s got a loyal supporter in the form of Travis Scott and, with its 20th anniversary coming up in 2022, we could see an even bigger push to restore the silhouette to its old glory.