Words By April Hollamby
Debuted in 1985 as Nike’s new, high-performance basketball sneaker, the Nike Dunk’s design is a unique amalgamation of the sportswear powerhouse’s predecessors: the Air Force 1, the Terminator, the Air Jordan 1 and the Legend. On its release, the evolutionary style quickly became popular in the worlds of basketball, skateboarding and fashion, and has had multiple white-hot drops since — from Jeff Staple’s ‘Pigeon’ Dunk in 2005 to Virgil Abloh’s Nike x Off-White Dunk Low in 2019.
Originally unveiled during the Be True To Your School ad campaign, the Dunk first arrived in 12 colorways, each representing one of the best college basketball teams in the US, enabling fans to rep their school’s colors. It was the first basketball sneaker to be produced in such bold shades, which only heightened its popularity. Since then, it’s earned its place in the sneaker hall of fame and has been championed by celebrity tastemakers like Virgil Abloh, as well as rappers Offset and Travis Scott. Here, Zack Schlemmer from luxury sneaker marketplace Stadium Goods highlights the key styles, colorways and collaborations, plus all the need-to-know size and fit advice.
The Dunk Low
‘The most popular version of the Nike Dunk is no doubt the Dunk Low,’ highlights Schlemmer. ‘It’s clean, simple, comfortable and endlessly versatile — it’s easy to see why everyone wants to own a pair. In my opinion, the Dunk always looks best in its classic two-tone color-block design. First released in November 2022, the Dunk Low Arizona State is an unofficial nod to the Arizona State Sun Devils football team. ‘You can’t beat the original team colorways from the Be True to Your School collection of 1985, such as the Michigan release, but my favorite of the newer college-themed iterations is definitely the Arizona State design. I simply think it looks great.’
The Dunk High
‘For those looking for a few extra style points, the Dunk High is your perfect option,’ says Schlemmer. ‘Seen a little less regularly than the Dunk Low but arguably even more elevated, the high-top Dunk pairs perfectly with jeans and other trousers. For another fresh take on the classic two-tone color-block design, the Knicks edition is a strong choice — the vibrant pair riffs off the team colors of the New York Knicks in eye-catching orange and blue. Released in July 2022, this unmistakable style is reminiscent of the 1999 City Attack Japan-exclusive.’ For more high-impact releases of the Dunk High, look to the Strawberry Cough, 1985 and Retro designs — all available to shop on FARFETCH.
‘Yoon Ahn’s AMBUSH — a brand defined by an experimental vision and a cutting-edge approach to design — has had numerous Nike collaborations, but few have been as popular as the label’s Dunk High series,’ says Schlemmer. ‘The collaboration features a bold rework of the Dunk, with oversized rubber Swooshes that extend off the ankle and an added heel clip that gives each model a futuristic aesthetic. It makes sense that many collaborators with Nike choose the Dunk as a silhouette for their partnership because it’s a fun shoe that’s easy to color-up and make your own.’ Other notable AMBUSH and Nike collaborative releases include the ‘Lethal Pink’, ‘Atomic Green’ and ‘Syracuse’ colorways, available to shop on FARFETCH now.
The SB Dunk Low release
SB — Nike’s skateboarding division — has released many fresh colorways of the Dunk Low over the years. ‘The biggest reason that the Nike Dunk has remained so popular for so long is Nike SB. It’s been churning out hot colorways of the skate-ready Dunk since the early 2000s,’ explains Schlemmer. One of the most popular SB Dunks of 2022 is the Philadelphia Phillies edition from the Bubblegum pack, which celebrates various Major League Baseball teams. ‘The upper takes inspiration from the Philadelphia Phillies’ powder-blue uniforms, and the outsole even includes a pink blob in the rubber to mimic chewed-up gum stuck to your sole,’ he highlights. With suede fabrications, vintage-inspired colorways and customized patchwork designs, the SB Dunk Low serves as a unique take on a sneaker classic.
Women’s exclusive Dunk Lows
‘You can’t talk about the Dunk without mentioning women’s exclusive releases,’ says Schlemmer. After the massive popularity of the aptly named black and white ‘Panda’ Dunk, womenswear styles have driven much of the market: ‘Some of the best Dunks right now are styles designed for women, and one of the most unique new versions is this Terry Swoosh edition. It has a great mix of materials — from the fun, fuzzy Swooshes and textured leather base to the suede overlay panels — and an easy-to-wear palette,’ Schlemmer adds. More notable women’s Dunk styles on FARFETCH include the ‘Sunset Pulse’, ‘Vintage Green’ and ‘Pink Oxford’ colorways.
Nike Dunk: sizing, fit and comfort
In terms of size and fit, the Nike Dunk remains true to size, so we recommend you get your regular size. The silhouette has a roomy fit, with a fully cushioned interior which ensures comfort for all-day wear.
To protect suede Dunk styles, we recommend using a protector. To clean leather iterations, we’d advise using a soft-bristle brush with warm soapy water, while shoelaces can be placed in the washing machine on a cold water setting. Keep your Nike Dunks looking fresh for longer by storing them in their original dust bag and shoe box.