The Nike Dunk Low is one of the most legendary shoes on the market. Dating all the way back to the 1980’s and spanning several generations, this shoe set the tone for all of the skateboard enthusiasts and even sports enthusiasts for years to come. The iconic toe pattern has been copied by almost every other brand in a similar space. The original design was a combination of the Air Jordan 1, the Nike Terminator, and the Air Force 1. If you have any affinity towards sneakers, you have most likely heard of the legendary Nike Dunks, whether it was the original Dunk High or some of the newer Dunk Low models. Over the years the models have changed from the iconic 80s. Different materials were used that comprised the shoe structure, various heel types were formed, and different collars. These design changes and collaborations led us to the impressive Nike SB Dunks we have today. The Dunk Low Pro and the Pro B seem to have set the stage for the Nike SB Dunks that dominate markets today.
News and plenty of hype
As other players enter the market, the popularity varies depending on the year and the generation. Nike works hard to fight through the noise and releases all kinds of Dunk variations in multiple shapes and colors each year. As the different variants progress it seems as though Nike is attempting to ensure the original Dunk shape is preserved even as various improvements and colorways are released. This universal shape helps the Nike Dunk to remain relevant with each new generation of skateboarding enthusiasts. The retro look appeals to many, tying them to the roots of the legends of the past. The colorways play a major factor in the hype of the Nike Dunks. It becomes very interesting year over year which colorways perform. Not all of them do. The longevity of the iconic shape coupled with the power of the Nike brand keep the Dunks in the conversation year over year but some perform better than others.
The durability of the Dunk Low overall is solid. Shoes used for skating often require additional support in the tow. The Dunk Low features a solid or one-piece outer coating. In 2002 Nike produced a spin-off of the Dunk Low which they called the SB(skateboard). This version is a little different than the traditional Dunk Low and provides extra support in key areas with boardriders in mind. The traditional Dunk Lows are more for team sports like basketball.
Skaters will say that the board stickiness is exceptional. Some will say that even more traditional shoes do not stick to the board as much. This might be due to the unique design of the lower portion of the shoe. There is not much between the lower rubber portion and the shoe sole. While the stiff toe design can be a negative feature when it comes to airflow, the solid toe structure can be great for boarding. Even the standard low dunks can be utilized in this fashion.
The Dunks have an advantage when it comes to other brands as well. The lacing system on the Dunks is much sturdier than most of the competitive Adidas shoes. Adidas represents a brand with lots of different popular models like the Yeezy, but the focus is much more centered around the style versus the technicalities. The uppers on the Adidas shoes do not boast a strong lacing system which can be uncomfortable when using the shoe for any time of the athletic event.
Breathability is one downside of the Nike Dunk. Athletes that have skated or performed activities outside understand the pain of shoes that have no airflow on hot pavement. Traditionally the Dunks do not have a mesh upper or large air holes on either side. In this regard, the Nike Dunk requires all the air to flow through the tongue at the top or through the iconic holes in the toe. As a result, the airflow on the Dunks is not exceptional. At the bottom of the shoe near the toe, your foot can become even hotter. The tradeoff between the extra support in the toe for durability and the ventilation needed for airflow isn’t great.
Is it worth it?
One of the main things this sneaker has going for it is the celebrity hype. Over the years it never seems to wane. Add in the limited editions and realistic or manufactured limited stock counts and the demand seems to drive a very high price point. The question with designer shoes such as the Nike Dunk, is whether the price point matches the capabilities? Better yet, does that matter? When you go to purchase high-end sneakers, are you looking for a limited edition, limited quantity, and rarity? Or are you more focused on purchasing a sneaker that can support broader goals such as working out, running swimming, biking, jogging, and team sports? It also appears that the price of the Dunks can fluctuate year over year.
Many people are in the habit of re-selling Dunks. 2020 was a great year for re-selling. Almost every release flew off the shelves which created a limited quantity situation. Those that could get their hands on the Dunks would re-sell them for an extreme profit. Other years like 2021 did not see the same yields. It does appear that the colorway matters. Interestingly enough, this also plays into the wearability and durability conversation. In the years when the hype is extreme, the Dunks fly off the shelves seemingly without much care for the wearability. In other years, there appears to be more of a focus on the wearability of the shoe. It does appear that the Nike Dunk Lows perform much better on the resale market than the highs. It seems important to note that the Dunks are definitely driven by hype as compared to some other shoes being driven by an experience in quality wearability.
A closer look at the Nike design and style options
Nike Dunk Low Rose Whisper
Launching in 2022, Nike released a new colorway for women in the Dunk Low series. They’ve called the colorway the Rose Whisper.
This is a two-tone colorway feating pink overlays and a white base. The sole maintains its original rubber base. The side of the shoe contains your typical Nike swoosh. The tongue is branded as well and it contains a structured lacing system. The toe of this colorway maintains the traditional Nike Dunk toe with several smaller holes on the top. As mentioned previously, this may be a pro or a con. While the shoes maintain the retro look that customers have come to know and recognize with the Nike Low Dunk, the breathability of the toe structure might come into play. The Low Rose Whisper does not have any mesh in the upper so the breathability during sporting events might become an issue. The only way for air to flow through the shoe would be through small holes in the top of the toe. The toe is reinforced like many of the other models so even with the extra flow it may get a little warm.
Experts recommend using a basic solution to clean the dunk lows. This can contain warm soap water. Using a small brush, like a toothbrush or some type of dry brush, start by knocking off all the loose dirt that may have accumulated. You can then mix the warm water with something like dish soap in a bottle. Baking soda and water can work well together if mixed in equal parts. Nike recommends that you hand wash the laces. Start by taking off each lace on both sides. You can utilize a mild cleaning solution like the above to manually massage the dirt off of the laces. Let them dry before adding them back to the shoe. Apply the cleaning solution to a soft brush and carefully clean the outer soles. Using a stiff brush that has been dipped in the mild cleaning solution, apply a light scrubbing. This may take a little bit of time to perform correctly. Avoid using any strong chemicals as this can cause the seams to fall apart or other components to dislodge like the swoosh. When drying your Dunks after hand washing them, allow them plenty of time to air dry. Carefully hand dry them with a soft towel after you are finished.
When it comes to comfort, the Nike dunks are very basic. As mentioned before, Nike seems to want to preserve the legacy shape and form of the icon shoe. This means the tech hasn’t changed since the mid-80s. The construction of the Nike Dunk is a basic midsole/strip with a rubber base that supports your feet. The differences in the sneaker really come from the upper. When it comes to size, these are best purchased true to size. This hasn’t always been true. In previous years, these were best purchased a half size up due to the lack of flexibility in the material. It’s a good idea with each new colorway to evaluate for yourself the new design and whether the additional room would make it more comfortable for you.
What about kids?
The designer shoe market for kids is growing extensively. Over the next few years, the expected growth rate is almost 4%. It appears customers are willing to pay premium prices for higher-end materials and well-designed products. The rise in disposable income and participation in a wide range of sports has driven recent market growth. A push for a healthy lifestyle for younger children has driven an increase in the participation of outdoor sports such as running, biking, and swimming. The Nike Dunks do come in children’s sizes and can range anywhere from 100-$120. This might seem a steep price to pay when considering the amount of use the sneakers might undergo. For the average adult, these sneakers are more of an everyday light use addition to their fashion wear. While the thick rubber sole of the Nike Dunk provides quite a bit of durability, it has yet to be seen if the shoe can hold up over longer periods.
Interestingly enough, some parents are also willing to pay for designer brands to provide their kids with emotional and social support. One parent said they did not want their kids to experience the teasing they received as a kid. It became a fine balance between the extra cost of the shoe, the worries around durability, and the desire for their kids to be socially acceptable. Some of the colorways come in under $150 which might provide some relief. However, the Nike Dunks are being worn by some of the most prominent sports stars and when kids see this on TV, there is a chance they may be drawn to the more popular colorways.
The Nike Dunk is an iconic shoe stretching back several generations. There is no doubt each of the editions that are released by retailers generates quite the buzz. The fact that the editions are often limited can play into the shoe craze. Whether intentional or not, limited stock can also drive up interest in the shoe. The Nike Dunk Low Rose Whisper differs from some of the Nike SB Dunks in that it’s more of a basketball-type shoe than a skating shoe. This shoe is much more in line with some of the previous colorways designed for fashion and some may argue that the durability and structure of the shoe might not line up with the hype driven by the demand. The design of the Rose Whisper falls in line with many of the other models over the last several decades. White and pink undertones dominate the sides of the shoe with a mixture of leather and the standard rubber sole. Prices for the Rose Whisper start around $100 depending on the retail site, Nike, or other shoe suppliers. The classic two-tone look brings back memories of some of the most iconic colorways of the past. Some of the most iconic colorways that this represents include the Nike Dunk Low USA. The USA features a similar two-tone style with more highlights of the red white and blue. In a similar fashion, the USA sports the leather patterns on the side of the shoe and has the iconic toe pattern with the venting holes on the top surface. The USA sports the iconic Nike swoosh along with the branded insole and the iconic tongue pattern. Other colorways the Rose Whisper mimics include the Nike Dunk Low Easter sporting the iconic two-tone look, the branded swoosh, and the iconic toe.
If you are looking for the latest in one of the most recognizable shoe patterns in the last couple of decades, the Rose Whisper is the shoe pattern for you.