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The Dunk was first introduced by Nike, Inc. in 1985. As the Nike Terminator’s "fraternal twin", originally having numerous colors in most sizes (Hi-Top or Low-Top) for various Universities and Colleges. Since its reintroduction in 1998, the Dunk has transformed from a basic basketball shoe into a subcultural icon and an inspiration for fashion, culture, and art.
Designed for basketball
Nike Dunk, a basketball shoe model, has a simple, low-tech design. Nike had marketing success with the shoes at various times since its introduction. The original style for Dunks didn't include air cushion technology. However, the design followed the 1983 introduction of the Air Force 1 model, the first Basketball Shoe with Air Cushion Technology, (Nike Air Tailwind in 1978 was the first shoe with air cushion technology). which was a key model in Nike's successful strategy of surpassing its rival Converse and aided in the rise of its stock. Two years later, Nike was facing a sales crisis, in part due to Adidas' return to popularity.
In response, Nike invited Michael Jordan to be its advertising endorser, a significant investment that affected the global basketball shoe market. Nike used Air Force 1 as the original prototype for the first pair of signature shoes for Jordan, the Air Jordan One. Soon all of the top college teams were strongly urged to have their own team shoe, which led to the Dunk.
The Nike Dunk has a lower profile outer sole than its parent shoes. The intent was a lighter weight and to stay closer to the ground. In addition, the paneling was revised to improve basketball game performance during pivoting and blocking. The Dunk was used to spearhead what Nike called the ’College Colors’ program. They signed some college basketball teams (and their coaches) to an exclusive Dunk sponsorship deal; in simple terms, the deal meant that each colored pair of Dunks matched their uniforms.
The return of the Dunk
In 1998, Nike began production of the Dunk once again. Initial releases were classic university colors, but new non-team colors were soon introduced. At this time, Nike often released the same dunk in two different versions consisting of reversed colors. The dunks released from 1998 to 2000 featured a nylon tongue and arch supports, distinguishing them from today's dunk releases. Overall, the reintroduction of the dunk proved to be extremely successful and production numbers have since increased to meet growing demand.
Rooting into skate culture
Nike's basketball shoe line was fairly popular in the skateboarding scene, and the Dunk soon became a popular shoe for skaters due to the stability and lower profile sole which improved grounding performance. In 2002, Nike created a Dunk specifically for skateboarders, known as the Nike Dunk SB. It features an extra-padded "puffy tongue" (common among skateboarding sneakers) and Nike's patented Zoom Air insole. Since then, the SB Dunk has become a popular icon for enthusiastic sneaker-collectors, and has hit the streetwear fashion scene. Nike currently collaborates with many designers to create special edition and collectible Dunks. The popularitiy of these dunks has grown so wide that it has prompted Nike to create many other kinds of shoes specifically for skateboarding such as Paul Rodriguez's, Tre's, Blazer's, and Team Editions to name a few. These shoes mimic the colorways and limited quantities of that of Nike Dunk SBs, which increases their value and appeal.