Nike, Inc. launched the Nike Dunks in 1985 as a line of product positioned side by side the Nike Terminator. The plan was to bend the basketball shoe market a bit introducing colors instead of the usual white pair with black swoosh. They had their eye on the target and Nike knew what to do.
Designed for basketball
The Nike Dunks were really intended for the basketball players. Nike had the shoes designed with a lower profile outer sole compared to the previous shoes. The objective was to offer shoes that are lighter in weight, closer to ground, and equipped with better paneling for improved performance. The improvements were made so that the player could attain optimum pivoting and blocking.
To market the new line, a program called the College Colors was launched in various colleges and universities. Selected schools were signed up for exclusive Nike sponsorship. The jerseys were to be matched with the Dunks that will be provided for by Nike.
The eight schools that were chosen for the Dunks program included University of Maryland, St. John's University, Syracuse University, Villanova University, University of Iowa, University of Kentucky, University of Michigan, and University of Nevada.
The production for the Nike Dunks was put on hold for some time until Nike re-launched the line in 1998. The new Dunks had tongues made of nylon and arch support – those were the signature styles that differentiate them from the present releases. The shoes exhibited the classic university colors but new colors were also released.
Unexpected niche in skateboarding
In the early 2000s, the skateboarding market started to peak. Although many skaters already started to use the Dunks even during the 90s, it was not until 2002 that Nike launched the Nike Dunk SB, which targets the skateboarders.
Skaters or riders got attracted to the Dunks because of the same features that made them very good basketball shoes. The skaters needed shoes that will be comfortable for them as they ride their boards. The lower profile design of the outer soles made it possible for them to feel the board better. What made the basketball players move freely and function effectively on the court were the same features that made the skaters perform better with their skateboards.
Sneakerheads and their eye for fashion
Overlapping with the skateboarders, there emerged a pop culture where fashion was focused on the sneakers. This was also hyped up by the hiphop culture, which also started to flourish in the 90s. Sneakerhead refers to a person who collects shoes, which he intends to wear for purposes of fashion and everyday wear. Most often, the shoes of choice are those intended for sports like tennis or basketball.
The return of the Nike Dunks proved to be a successful more by Nike. With the new branch, Nike Dunk SB, the shoe line is now cashing in on their limited editions, which often sell at insane prices. The popularity of these special versions is attributed to the hype that is being given to the Dunks in the Internet.