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Colourway Corral: Nike's 'What The'

Nike SB Dunk High Thomas Campbell What the Dunk 2017 Right
Image Credit: StockX

Nike’s ‘What The’ series is a sneakerhead’s wet dream. Hybrid colourways, crafted from the most iconic combos in Team Swoosh’s arsenal, ‘What The’ renditions have become a regular sight on the scene. And it all started with the 2007 Nike SB Dunk Low ‘What The Dunk’.

Now, in 2020, Nike’s ‘What The’ series has stretched beyond SB, extending into lifestyle creps, basketball trainers, and even football silhouettes.

To qualify as a ‘What The’ colourway, a shoe has to be created using elements, patterns or colours already in existence, and then be mashed together to morph into a footwear creation that Dr Frankenstein would be proud of. With the Air Jordan 5 ‘What The’ drop on the horizon, we decided to break down Nike’s ‘What The’ series, and spotlight some of the most iconic releases.

Peep our hand-picked selection down below, we’ve got everything from the ‘What The Dunk’ to Lebron’s ‘What The MVP’.

Nike SB Dunk Low ‘What The Dunk’ (2007)

The one that started it all, the Nike SB Dunk Low ‘What The Dunk’. Dropping back in 2007, it quickly went to the top of many Grail lists. Arguably one of the most iconic Dunks of all time, it goes for a pretty penny on the secondary sneaker market these days. Rumoured to be limited to only 500 pairs, it mixes and matches a number of classic colourways – including the ‘Heineken’, ‘Pigeon’, ‘Raygun’ and ‘Huf’.

Nike Kobe 7 System ‘What The Kobe’ (2012)

Not only bringing back Nike’s ‘What The’ series, the Nike Kobe 7 System ‘What The Kobe’ took it from the skatepark straight to the hardwood. Mashing together colourways such as the ‘Mamba Snake’, ‘Cheetah’, ‘Shark’, and ‘Poison Dart Frog’, this crep set the tone for multiple ‘What The’ basketball models to follow.

Nike LeBron 9 ‘What The LeBron’ (2012)

Another insanely rare ‘What The’ release, the Nike LeBron 9 is nlike many others on this list. That’s because the ‘What the LeBron’ doesn’t actually go for the haphazard mismatched look, instead opting for a consistent left and right shoe.

Nike KD 5 ‘What The KD’ (2013)

This drop seemed to clearly indicate that Nike wanted to continue their ‘What The’ series within the basketball world. The KD 5 Premium ‘What the KD’ was the first Durant shoe to be mixed and matched using cues from previous combos such as the ‘BHM’, ‘Christmas’ and ‘All-Star’.

Nike Lebron 10 ‘What The MVP’ (2013)

A 2013 celebratory release for LeBron James’ fourth NBA MVP Award, the very limited Nike LeBron 10 ‘What The MVP’ now fetches a hefty sum on the secondary market. Decked out with Flywire tech, a Zoom Air unit, and beautifully scripted gold MVP on the tongue, Nike created the ‘What The MVP’ by using past LeBron colourways such as the ‘Area 72’, ‘Prism’ and ‘BHM’.

Nike Kobe 8 System ‘What The Kobe’ (2013)

All of Nike’s ‘What The’ colourways are neck-breakers, usually featuring mismatched pairs, but the 2013 Nike Kobe 8 System ‘What The Kobe’ took it to the next level! Created by mixing a massive 30 different colourways from previous pairs of Kobe 8s – it was hard to keep up.

Nike Air Max Trainer 94 ‘What The Trainer’ (2014)

We just had to include the Nike Air Max Trainer 94 ‘What the Trainer’ or ‘Safari’ that dropped in 2014. The obviously eye-catching silhouette is definitely a standout crep, and although it was originally dubbed the ‘Safari’, we can see why many people referred to it as part of the ‘What The’ lineage.

Nike SB Dunk High ‘What The Doernbecher’ (2015)

Nike’s Doernbecher series is a seriously amazing initiative, allowing patients at the Doernbecher Children’s Hospital to create their own shoe from scratch, with the proceeds of sales then going back to the Portland hospital. With already millions of dollars raised, and many lives changed, Team Swoosh went to the next level in 2015, creating the Nike Dunk High ‘What The Doernbecher’.

The wild look used 13 different SB Doernbecher releases that were already in existence. They dropped on June 11 and were extremely limited.

Nike Air Max 95 ‘Greedy’ (2015)

Celebrating the Air Max 95’s 20th anniversary, Nike decided to drop a pair that definitely fits the bill to be a ’What The’ release. Although dubbed the ‘Greedy’, the 2015 iteration combined colourways such as the OG ‘Neon’, ‘Safety Orange’, and ‘Grape’. Definitely a heater release, we can see why Nike dropped a follow-up Air Max 95 this year labelled the ‘Greedy 2.0’.

Nike Mercurial Superfly SE FG ‘What The’ (2016)

Back in 2016, Nike decided to take the iconic ‘What The’ series to the football pitch, decking out the Mercurial Superfly SE FG in probably the craziest colourway football had ever seen. With their breakout ‘What The’ football model, Team Swoosh combined 16 different well known Mercurial combos.

Not only were they limited to just 3000 pairs worldwide, but they were created with specialised insoles listing the names of the colourways used.

Nike SB Dunk High Thomas Campbell ‘What The Dunk’ (2017)

Celebrating the works of California-based artist Thomas Campbell, who was also the director for the Nike SB Chronicles Vol. 3 skate film, Nike decided to create a neck-breaking edition of the Dunk High. With only 100 pairs made, this celebratory release is definitely one for the history books.

Air Jordan 4 ‘What The’ (2019)

A recent release, and unlike many of the others on the list, the Air Jordan 4 ‘What The’ opts for a more toned-down look. With a white leather base, Jordan Brand took OG AJ4 colourways such as the ‘Military Blue’ and ‘Varsity Red’ and incorporated them into the upper, resulting in a very clean mismatched look.

Nike Air Force 1 ‘What The LA and NY’ (2019)

Another recent release, Nike created two colourful Air Force 1s in 2019. One was dubbed the ‘What The LA’, and the other was the ‘What The NY’, with both deriving inspiration from sporting teams that are based in each city.

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