The All-Time Greatest Nike SB Dunks: Part 1
After being co-opted by skaters in the 80s, the Swoosh did right by those early adopters in 2002 by reengineering the design specifically for skating. Nike added a fatter tongue to the mix, a Zoom Air bag in the heel, and quickly got co-signs from countless skaters. Couple that re-worked design with brand new colourways and colabs, and an instant classic was born – one beloved by skaters and 'heads alike.
Nearly two decades later, the Dunk seems poised to be bigger than ever. New Supreme Dunks are on the way, and Virgil Abloh is set to put his own unique spin on the shoe with a trio of releases before year's end.
With the Dunk once again hogging the spotlight, it's the perfect time to take a look back at some of our favourite SB Dunks from over the years.
Check out 10 of our picks below, and then stay tuned for part two – because we sure can't limit a best-of Dunk list to just 10 pairs.
Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Danny Supa’ (2002)Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Danny Supa’ (2002)
The ‘Supas’ are, more or less, the pair that started it all. When Nike SB officially launched in 2002, they had just four team riders: Richard Mulder, Danny Supasirirat, Reese Forbes, and Gino Iannucci. Naturally, the Swoosh kicked things off with special colourways for each of the riders – collaborations have been an SB go-to from the very beginning. Supa’s was unquestionably the best of the original bunch, and paid homage to his New York City roots with a clean orange, blue and white execution with classic colour-blocking.
Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Reese Forbes Denim’ (2002)Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Reese Forbes Denim’ (2002)
We love Reese Forbes’ first-ever SB Dunks, but his denim-clad follow-up wins the head-to-head battle with his ‘Wheat’ OGs. No mere jean-inspired release, these upped the ante with two different shades of denim, contrasting yellow stitches, frayed edges, and bright red pops throughout.
Supreme x Nike SB Dunk Low (2002, 2012)Supreme x Nike SB Dunk Low (2002, 2012)
Supreme have dropped plenty of coveted SB collaborations over the years, but their first remains their best. You can’t go wrong with Air Jordan 3–inspired elephant print and ‘Cement’ grey, and Supreme’s 2002 Dunks perfected that look. Ten years later, ‘preme revisited the iconic two-pack with a celebratory red version of the design in honour of its 10th anniversary.
Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Rayguns’ (2005)Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Rayguns’ (2005)
Released in 2005, the ‘Rayguns’ were a nod to the fictional Roswell Rayguns basketball team, and aptly rocked a special Rayguns logo to go along with a premium leather build, and orange and golden yellow highlights. The black version of the kicks has always been the most popular, but the Swoosh also released a clean white version. Most recently the look was resurrected for a special edition of the Kyrie 3.
Staple x Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Pigeon’ (2005)Staple x Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Pigeon’ (2005)
What can be said about the ‘Pigeon’ that hasn’t been said already? Hype for the kicks was so extreme that a riot broke out on New York City’s streets on release day, thus earning a cover story in the New York Post. In the years since, Jeff Staple and company have revisited the design with black and ‘Panda’ colourways of the kicks, but neither can hold a candle to the OG grey all-timer.
Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Boca Juniors’ (2005)Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Boca Juniors’ (2005)
These may not have been a collaboration with the Buenos Aires football club, but they may as well have been. Clad in bright blue leather with just the right amount of yellow, these gum-soled Dunks were a clear nod to the Argentinian squad, and remain some of the cleanest Dunks ever. 2017 finally saw the kicks make a comeback, albeit with suede panels and Ishod Wair’s slightly deconstructed re-work.
Diamond Supply Co. x Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Tiffany’ (2005)Diamond Supply Co. x Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Tiffany’ (2005)
When Nicky Diamonds and company got their hands on the Dunk in 2005, they went the opulent route and opted for crocodile-embossed leather panels and chrome Swooshes. But what really set the colab off was the gorgeous shade of Tiffany-inspired blue that took cues from the luxury jewellery label. These prompted long lines and lengthy campouts at all of the SB spots that carried them and, along with Staple’s ‘Pigeon’, ushered in a new era of footwear hype. A high-top version followed in 2014, while black, white and ‘Canary’ pairs – complete with Velcro Swooshes – dropped in 2018.
Concepts x Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Lobster’ (2008, 2009, 2018)Concepts x Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Lobster’ (2008, 2009, 2018)
Concepts always take their collaborative projects to another level, and their ‘Lobster’ Dunks are a perfect example of that ethos. Not only did the 2008 original come with the likes of speckled leather detailing, checkered lining, and bright blue rubber bands, but the in-store drop even included a wooden crate and a bunch of ‘Concepts Fishing Co.’ goodies. After 2008’s initial drop, Deon Point and company returned with a blue version in 2009, as well as an uber-rare yellow F&F colourway. Most recently, 2018 brought purple and green colourways in celebration of the shoe’s 10-year anniversary. The look even graced the Kyrie 4, pairs of which are as scarce – if not more so – than their SB brethren.
Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Newcastle’ (2008)Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Newcastle’ (2008)
2008’s ‘Newcastle’ release is not just one of the best-ever beer-inspired sneakers, but is an all-timer when it comes to impeccable Dunk colour-blocking. Clad in gold, brown, and ‘Atlantic Blue’, with just a dash of red and white, these were an unofficial tribute to Newcastle Brown Ale and its iconic label.
Nike SB Dunk High ‘Skunk’ (2010)Nike SB Dunk High ‘Skunk’ (2010)
Nike’s skateboarding imprint is no stranger to marijuana-inspired kicks, and every pothead’s favourite holiday. Released on 4/20 in 2010, the cushy ‘Skunk’ paid tribute to the beloved strain of the same name with a fuzzy suede upper, special insole graphics, and a Forest/Vintage Purple colourway.
Header image via Nike.