ARTICLE BY Sneaker Freaker

The Forgotten Nike SB Dunks of Yesteryear

sb dunk low pile
Via @_nate_w

We’re only at the halfway point, but it’s probably already safe to declare the Dunk as the unofficial silhouette of 2020. The court-turned-skate classic has experienced a renaissance never-before-seen in the sneaker circles, spurred on mainly by collaborative powerhouses, as well as Nike SB’s well-curated rollout roster.

We know the SB Dunk is sneaker royalty, with a colossal compendium of legendary colourways releasing since the early 2000s. Yet still, there’s also a swag of lesser-known gems among the ranks. To call these underrated would be a gross understatement! Here’s a look back at some of the forgotten SB Dunks of yesteryear. 

via Stadium Goods
Via @travisscott

Nike SB Dunk High ‘Papa Bear’ (2006)

Inspired by Medicom [email protected] from the same year, this grizzly Grail was part of 2006’s ‘Three Little Bears’ Pack. Releasing alongside the ‘Mama Bear’ Mid and ‘Baby Bear’ Low, the ‘Papa Bear’ High was definitely the daddy of the bunch, coming through with the most wearable red and blue colourway, and the healthiest dose of synthetic orange bear hair. These actually sat on shelves after release, but eventually became one of most sought-after throwback colourways after Travis Scott was spotted rocking ‘em back in 2018.

Considering Nike SB’s recent hyped Dunk releases, these actually don’t seem too outlandish. Undoubtedly, there’d be countless hypefiends trying to get their paws on ‘em if they were released today.

Stones Throw x Nike SB Dunk High ‘Quasimoto’ (2006-2007)

Lord Quas! Nike SB put together these Dunk Highs for the 10th anniversary of indie music label Stones Throw Records. They feature a mature combo of blue herringbone twill, pale suede and brown textile. Stones Throw golden child Quasimoto (Madlib’s alter-ego) was embroidered on the heel counters, and the pair read ‘LORD QUAS’ when put together.

They were only ever made for the Stones Throw crew, and never saw a retail release, so don’t expect to find a pair easily. However, if you look hard enough, there's a handful of bad fakes that can be bought for some pesos.

via GOAT
via @sk8thegr8

Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Trail Brown’ (2007)

Back in 2007, you could not have gotten more GR than these brown and white Dunk Lows with a black Swoosh. Granted, they had a bit of snake texture to add some depth but, anecdotally, these hit clearance racks at skate shops everywhere.

Old heads see loose hints of Nike Escape, while Hypebeasts and Travis Scott fans will probably see Air Jordan 1. With some third-party pink laces thrown into the mix, this former bargain-bin fodder suddenly commanded four-digit prices. The perfect example of the today’s revived old-SB Dunk resale bubble. Please, don’t retro them.

via Flight Club

Nike SB Dunk High ‘Wet Floor’ (2009)

The ‘Wet Floor’ Dunk High is arguably the 'everyman’s SB'. Did you know it was designed by a janitor? Ian Williams started from the bottom – almost literally – as a custodian at Nike WHQ, and his persistence eventually led to him to design this very underrated SB Dunk High colourway.

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This is one of my greatest accomplishments. It has taken me a very long time to figure out what to say and I still am not going to say it all yet - I’ll make a y’all a “how this all happened” video in a few days. But for now, here’s a story. I had been looking forward to the last week in April 2020 for at least a year. In coffee it is usually the week of the Specialty Coffee Association conference - the week where allllll the “coffee people” people pull up and this year is was going to be IN PORTLAND! I had all these huge ideas and me and @thecoffeehomies were about to get all the parties poppin! In December or January Sarah from @baristamagazine told me they would like me to be the cover of the mag for the SCA issue 😢🙏🏾🔥. I automatically thought “Oh yup, Ima be famous now!” 😂 In April 2008, I was a janitor at the Nike WHQ. I was about 2 years into cleaning the dookie and mopping the floors when I asked the @nikesb homies (who’s trash I took out) if I could make a shoe. I presented the idea of making a shoe inspired by my current job, hoping it’d get me the job I dreamt of - they actually told me on my birthday! Fast forward, the shoe was set to release June 2009! Well, the internal communications team at Nike decided they should write a story about my journey up to that point and all that great stuff - I thought that was gonna be my big break!! *Second pic was taken by @nickdepaula after the Nike story leaked. But maybe you remember that 2009 was the year of the recession. The story released Monday, and from Tuesday thru Thursday, I watched 1/3 of my now close friends WHQ workforce get let go... And I’m sure you can already guess that the @specialtycoffeeassociation conference has been cancelled for this year and will resume in New Orleans next April. Does this mean I’m stopping? Absolutely not. About 9 months later the homie Tung Ho put me in a great position to audition and interview for a job as a footwear developer because he saw the hustle and I got the job. A bigger thank you will come soon, it’ll be a long story with all the tears and blah blah. But yeah. We’ll see what‘s poppin a few months from now. Til then, go read this one! #thankyou

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Yellow leather, perforated white, a patent toebox, and red hints tie the theme down flawlessly. It’s reported that there were only 5000 pairs made of the ‘Wet Floor’, which puts its at comparable rarity to the ‘Tiffany’ (AKA ‘Diamond') Dunks! Today, Williams runs the sneaker-themed Deadstock Coffee in nearby Portland!

via Premier

Nike SB Dunk Low ‘Concord’ (2013)

Nike SB have never been shy in dabbling with the storied palettes of the Jumpman, famously taking the ‘Space Jam’ scheme to the Dunk Low in 2011. Two years later, they revisited the Air Jordan 11 theme, borrowing the iconic ‘Concord’ colourway for another shiny Dunk Low rendition. Considering the AJ11 'Concord' is one of most beloved sneakers of all time, its Dunk Low cousin is criminally forgotten.

Releasing on 4/20, these weren’t exactly green ‘n mean. That said, they were certainly classy AF. With a black patent leather upper and white Cordura nylon on the upper, the sneaker polished off the AJ11 look via a translucent outsole. The perfect Dunks to rock with your tux? We think so.

For more in-depth features on the Dunk and other iconic silhouettes, be sure to check out our Features section.

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