Recently Virgil Abloh unveiled his latest collab with Nike, the Off-White x Nike Rubber Dunk. It marks a new relationship between him and the brand as the Rubber Dunk is a Virgil Abloh’s first original Nike sneaker. Previously, the Off-White and Nike collaborations only went as far as Virgil Abloh taking an existing Nike model and adding his own personal touches into the shoe, most notably the signature “labeling” and the zip-tag that has become a signature of Off-White.
It’s a bold statement calling a original Nike shoe a Dunk. The Nike Dunks were the inspiration to the Jordan 1 and is a significant part of skateboarding culture and more. So, does the Air Rubber Dunk “deserve” to be called a Dunk? The Nike Dunks were released in 1985 as a performance shoe for college basketball. As a basketball shoe it found another sport to be a part of, skateboarding. The dunks provided skaters with what they need on the griptape such as ankle protection, grip and a thin insole allowing better board feel. And in March 2002 the Dunk SBs were released with slight modifications being made to suit the skateboarders even more. While both the SBs and the original Dunks were released to suit a specific type of sport, the Rubber Dunks are looking like more of a fashion statement rather than an athlete’s shoe.
While it is hard to tell the difference between a SB Dunk and a regular Dunk to the average eye, Virgil Abloh’s creation is easy to differentiate from its other Dunk cousins with the shoe only sharing a similar outsole and midsole. The upper looks completely different with the mesh upper and the rubber overlays. It is a question whether the sneaker community, especially the skateboarding community will accept this shoe sharing the same name as the shoe that represents part of their culture. Others who aren’t as attached to the Dunks won’t really care what these shoes will be called. However for others who are emotionally attached to the shoe, it may be seen as offensive. Whether this is the case we will have to wait and see until the sneakers are released this Spring.