Why, back in my day, we didn’t even have a Nike SB lineup. Heck, even the Dunk itself wasn’t exactly that popular. Or at least, it wasn’t the instant hype machine in the early-2000s and today, thanks in no small part to one Travis Scott Making Them Great Again.
Well, that’s not exactly true, since for a good decade or so, the Dunk languished in relative obscurity, a dormant flex volcano, lagging way behind Nike’s then Adidas’ take on the Yeezys and whatever it is Virgil Abloh decided to put quotation marks on.
But I don’t want to be drawn into arguments on the merits/demerits of Yeezys and Off White things. What I want to talk about today is, with Dunk mania in full swing (again), is to talk about a time when there was no Nike SB to speak of.
A time when puffy laces, fat tongues and Zoom Air insoles were but a glint in Nike’s eye.
A more innocent time, when getting the sneakers you wanted meant having to spend hours either trawling eBay or the stores in the world’s sneaker capitals (and by that I mean New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo or even Hong Kong).
Anyway, the particular Dunk I want to talk about today is the Dunk Low Pro B ‘Griptape’, a sneaker that pre-dates Nike’s SB lineup by a year, but bearing most of its hallmarks, the T H I C C tongue, being the most notable example.
Thing is, Nike never explicitly said this Dunk was meant for skateboarding, and suffice it to say, there was no SB label on the tongue or insoles. However, its skateboarding pretensions should be obvious from the aforementioned extra-padded tongue and of course, the panels in high-wear areas covered in rough-and-tough griptape.
Coupled with the triple black execution set on a gum sole, this Dunk is to me minimalist perfection. It’s not shouty about it, and most importantly, unless you’re either as old as time itself or possess encyclopaedic knowledge of Nike SB, you’ll probably have no idea what you’re looking at.
Even back then, and by “back then” I mean the early- to mid-2000s, it was a bit of an overlooked gem, which meant tracking down a pair was nigh-on impossible. And it’s even harder today, and even though there are a few pairs kicking around (heh) on eBay in remarkably good shape for something two decades old, only big footers need apply.
Oddly enough, while Nike did bring back griptape as a material on its SB lineup at several points, it never really did a reissue of the original triple black/gum sole model. More’s the pity.
With all the buzz surrounding the Dunk SB’s second coming, there’s never been a better time to do it. After all, Nike has done a couple of reissues of the Viotech Dunk, and in the past year, has been digging through its archives and re-releasing stuff from its coveted Co.Jp range.
The time is right, Nike, and the time is now.