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Sneakerking of Memphis Drops a Great Question-Part 2: Why Has the Hype Died on the Dunk

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M.Morgan aka Sneakerking of Memphis (photo by J Boyd)

One of the guys I most admire in kicks lives in Memphis. When some people talk about collectors today it’s about guys who have a collection that reflects recent hype. Sneakerking of Memphis though… M. Morgan is hands down one of the dopest collectors in the country. He’s not hyped on websites or on YouTube with a channel, but I’ve bought parts of his collection that he considered not very good, that I went on to make a few thousand dollars flipping. The picture up there is of one of his tables at a Sneaker Expo here in Memphis back in 2011.

What was his question?

“Why is it that the hype has died with the AF1s, Foams, and SBs but not so much with Retro Jordans which have been way more saturated?”

Part 1 Has The Air Force 1 Lost Its Hype?

Part 2 Why Has the Hype With the Dunk Died?

If I say Fallen, Globe, DC, Etnies, Osiris, Emerica, or IPath, the average person might think I was speaking some coded language. They wouldn’t have any idea that these are all skate companies. Living in SoCal for so long and being a young basketball coach at a high school meant that when school let out and I was trying to run my basketball practices I was interrupted by the clacking and scraping sounds that came from outside in the lunch court. Now this is the late 90s, but the issue with skaters on school grounds in California has been a problem since the 70s and 80s. California isn’t like the rest of the country. We barely have lunch rooms. The lunch court is laid out perfect for kids looking to grind down rails, jump steps and since Cali has always been ahead of the rest of the country the lunch court and entries to the building all have handicap ramps which make a perfect circuit for a skater.

What does all of that up there have to do with the next part of this question? Skaters are counterculture. When I first got to Cali in my teens you would see kids walking around with shoes on and socks stacked up under the tongue. I played basketball so I didn’t get it. Then in the mid 90s all of sudden I started seeing kids snatch up old hoops shoes from the 80s, Dunks and Vandals. They would do the same thing and stuff socks between the tongue of their shoes and the instep of their foot. This was a routine. The only skate shoe that existed really was Vans.  A lot of kids started picking up on Dunks and you could find the shoes everywhere since basketball shoes began to develop in newer styles. The shoes were marked down cheap, they were Nikes and they came in cool colors, so kids were adding the extra padding of socks and skating. Nike saw this taking place in the late 90s. I was playing college basketball and then started coaching and I remember clearly at San Diego State skaters who wouldn’t touch a Nike shoe. Nike wasn’t a part of the Counterculture. They were the system. In San Diego Tony Hawk was the king of Escondido and a legend already and he never wore Nikes as far as I remember.

Fast forward to me moving to Memphis. Which basically coincides with the rise of Nike SB.

Memphis had several skate shops, but they were basically killed off by Nike due to the way accounts were set up for releases and pushback from riders. The only shop I think that is left in Memphis is Cheapskates and the owner is so old school he won’t carry Nike products at all. This gets us through the majority of the story of Nike SB. I had to do this before jumping into whether the hype has died and why it died. When Nike came on the scene it was almost perfect timing. Xtreme Sports was on the rise, the money in Skating was skyrocketing and there were stars popping up all over the place. Nike immediately set out to do what it does which was to align itself with the best street guys out there. They signed P-Rod, Janoski and other brands had to keep up or die. This still created Pushback from true skaters, but the money always wins out.

Around 2004 is when the hype for Dunks started.  Skate shops like Supreme (yes Supreme was a skate shop) and the streetwear market begin to pop off. In 2005 the Nike Dunk reached critical acclaim with the Staple Pigeon Dunk. This is where the hype grew to a ridiculous level. This is also when reselling on eBay began to take off and right around when I launched Sho-Shot. I was still focused on basketball, but in Memphis the Nike Clearance Store had gems! You could walk in and pick up Dunks in full boxes. What has to be remembered though is that the Dunk craze started with the college basketball series in the 80s, but these are not the Dunks that were coveted/hyped. It was the generation of the Pigeon that started the HYPE. For about 8 years, up to 2012 Dunks became one of the biggest resale shoes. Tiffany, Skunk, Dela Soul, and a host of Dunks were getting flipped for big money. I could walk into Nike Clearance and grab any random Dunk and it would sell. Like I said though, in 2012 the Dunk began to fade.

Has the Hype on Dunks Died? Yes

A couple of weeks ago Nike dropped a pink box Dunk and it quietly sat on SNKRS. It didn’t sell out at first. It finally sold out on SNKRS, but even Flight Club has it for 200. Which means that it’s basically retail and someone is hoping to make a profit. Those who tried to grab it to flip on eBay are at 140, 129, and 140 on yesterday’s sales. Which means they are probably losing money to flip it if they bought it at retail. The Pink Box is a throwback, it’s retro (which is extremely hot right now for Puma and Adidas) and it was easily one of the dopest releases in the last few years. It was a shout out to the heyday of the Dunk, but it’s being outsold in the resale game by the Puma Creeper from Rihanna.

The last Dunk I sold was:

Inactive (Out of Stock)
05/19/2015 17:50:49
07/17/2015 17:03:48
+ —
+ $0.00

This UENO Panda signaled the end of the Dunk in 2015. I had the shoe listed at 139.99, but it was wishful thinking. The shoe never sold above retail and is still sitting everywhere after a year at 64.99 with free shipping. The Dunk was dead before that. In 2013 Nike created a monster mash release in the Nike Dunk High Free which was one part Foamposite, one part Dunk and one part Nike Free… dafuq? This last ditch attempt was just a shitty move for lack of a better word.

What the hell happened?

  1. Nike was never really a skate brand. When skaters began to build their own and reclaim their market other people who were in it for the hype and couldn’t tell you what an eS is moved with the trends. Nike undercut the Dunk by doing what Nike does. The Signature Skate shoe was the beginning of the death of the Nike SB. Nike SB was dope because guys like P-Rod was riding in them. When Janoski and Koston were given  signatures younger guys started wearing those shoes. Nike has created so many styles of skate shoes, that they thinned out the market that finally started wearing the shoes for skate, not fashion. Which leads me to the second reason the Dunk hype has died.
  2. Fashion trends. The Pigeon was a hype, fashion shoe. When that shoe dropped you started seeing models rocking SB Dunks. When the shoe became a part of the fashion trend, it was doomed. As the culture began to shift to runners and casual athletic clothing, the SB Dunk simply didn’t fit the styles. The shoe was further crushed by another trend/shift.
  3. Nike Basketball. I think no one realizes that in 2004 when the hype around Dunks started Kobe was leaving Adidas. LeBron was getting his first deal, and KD was on the line for signatures. Add in the explosion of the LeBron 6 and the meteor that was the KD4 and the Kobe line becoming better and a lot of the people who were rocking Dunks shifted to Nike Basketball. Nike Basketball became the industry. The addition of Kyrie to the Nike family had very little to do with the death of the Dunk because Kyrie was late to the party, but both the Dunk and Nike Basketball are being displaced by the growth of Adidas and Under Armour.
  4. Adidas, Under Armour and Athleisure: The market is officially even. You can walk into stores and see Jordans sitting on the wall and people are wearing skinny jeans and NMDs or Superstars. Kids are rocking Currys and Nike’s dominance with basketball and Dunks is facing the same issue as the market itself. Basketball is struggling.

Which leads us to the final shoe in the series the Foamposite.

Part 1Click to read Part 1 on the Air Force 1

Part 2: Has the Hype Died on the Dunk?

Part 3: Has the Hype Died on the Foamposite?

Next in the series: Why has the hype on the Foamposite died?