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Nike SB: How Nike Conquered The Skateboarding Industry

Nike SB: How Nike Conquered The Skateboarding Industry


– [Narrator] This is Paul Rodriguez, P-Rod was one of the first skaters to be sponsored by Nike. For years it was taboo for
skaters to support Nike, because it was the opposite of what skateboarding culture stood for. If you skated in the early
2000s, then you probably remember being shocked, or
maybe even downright angry when Nike SB ads started
popping up in skateboard mags like Thrasher and Transworld. How did this happen? Why is this recognized as
such a big cultural shift by both the sneaker world
and skateboard culture? The truth is that during this
era, skateboarding culture was hugely impacting sneaker sales. Skateboarding was finally
reaching the mainstream after decades of being an underground, out casted subculture. During this boom, iconic
brands like, DC Shoes, Etnies, Emerica, ES and Osiris,
began to make a name for themselves in the industry. Nike wanted a piece of the
pie and was desperately trying to secure a foothold within the lucrative skateboarding industry. Their first attempt at
cracking the industry was a massive failure. Nike signed a young Bam
Margera as its sole team skater and launched a collection of
poorly designed skate shoes, that not only resembled your
mom’s Sketchers, but had three of the worst names
Nike has ever cursed its footwear with. The Air Choad, the Air
Snak, and the Schimp. I mean, look at these, it’s
no wonder skaters didn’t embrace Nike’s first efforts. Skateboarding culture was
unfortunately misunderstood by Nike, their soulless
corporate image failed to resonate with the skateboard community. After multiple attempts and
a failed TV ad campaign, it was becoming clear that
it wasn’t going to be easy for Nike to assert its
dominance in the rapidly growing skate industry. In 2001, Nike hired Sandy Bodecker as head of Nike Skateboarding division. Bodecker would prove crucial
to the success of Nike SB. He understood that Nike
in fact, had already been part of skateboarding heritage. Turns out, a hand full of
skaters from the late 80s and early 90s were already skating in classic Nike Silhouettes. Pro skateboarders like
Lance Mountain and the Bones Brigade famously wore
Blazers, and everyone from Mark Gonzales to Steve Caballero skated in Jordan Ones. The reason skaters wore
Nike shoes back then was because Nike basketball
sneakers were cheaper to buy than skate shoes,
they were super comfortable, durable, and most importantly,
had great board feel, something Nike would improve
on in the years to come. Nike tasked Bodecker with rebuilding their crumbling skateboard division. Bodecker’s solution was
to do the exact opposite of what Nike had done for so many years. Instead of adopting the usual Nike model of trying to completely own the market, Bodecker’s approach was to
be a grassroots operation. Nike’s new skate shoe line
was to avoid mass production, generic releases, and would not distribute to corporate sports stores
that skaters didn’t care about. But what about a solid
product that skaters could get behind, what shoe
would Nike be selling? This is where Sandy Bodecker’s
genius came to surface. He argued that there was
no reason to design a new shoe because influential
skaters had already worn Nikes in the past. The design was already
there and the future lie in the company’s history. Bodecker convinced Nike
to overhaul the 80s basketball college sneaker, the Nike Dunk. First released in 1985,
the Nike Dunk was designed by legendary Nike designer, Peter Moore. The design closely resembled
the Air Jordan One. A lot of people don’t know
this but both the Jordan One and the Nike Dunk were introduced in the same year and
designed by the same team. It makes sense that
skaters used the Jordan One in the late 80s because
the tech was basically the same as modern Dunks. What made the Nike Dunk
design so special was not its tech, but its endless color waves. The shoe was actually brought to the market as a college basketball shoe. Nike was able to customize the Silhouette to match the colors of
each basketball team that Nike had partnerships with. To earn the trust of the skateboard world, Nike strategically recruited
four underground skaters. The roster included Reese
Forbes, Gino Lannucci, Richard Mulder and Danny Supa. They became the face of Nike SB, and each had their own signature Dunk. Nike re-engineered the shoe to
be optimal for skateboarding. A number of changes were
made, padding was added to the insole to reduce
the impact from skating, and the sole, originally
designed for the hardwood basketball courts, was
modified for better traction against skateboard grip
tape, however the biggest change in design was the shoe’s tongue. Nike redesigned the tongue
to have a thicker padding which created the beloved fat tongue that was the staple of that era of skate shoes. With everything in place,
Sandy Bodecker and the team at SB, perfectly executed their game plan. It was simple, limited
numbers, compelling stories, and strict distribution exclusive to select independent skate shops. Nike was finally supporting
skater owned shops and showing a commitment
to the skateboard industry. This was crucial in gaining
trust and acceptance from the skateboard world. These are the first four SB
Dunks that became available to a limited number of skate shops. Nike SB’s execution
couldn’t have been better, Dunks were finally on the feet of skaters, and word was spreading in
the skateboard community, that not only did these
shoes perform well, but they also looked dope
and had a story behind them. It was time for Nike to
take their skateboarding division to the next level, they did this through thoughtful collaborations. Highly esteemed skate
brands like, Zoo York and Chocolate, began
agreeing to collaborate with Nike on Dunk designs. At one point, Nike SB partnered with the underground skate
shop, Supreme, way before the hype and way before
camp outs, together with Supreme Skate Shop,
Nike released a very limited number of one
of the most legendary Dunks of all time, this
was the first non Jordan shoe to feature the iconic
Nike elephant print. This was a huge turning point for Nike SB. Suddenly the skate
shop’s customers weren’t just skaters, they were sneaker heads too. By the mid 2000s there was massive lines and camp outs outside of skate shops to cop the latest release. Nike SB was in its most prolific stage, releasing dozens of color
waves throughout the years, all of which had their own unique story. Here’s some of our all-time favorites, they all had their own
nick names, comment below if you owned any of these. The list includes, the
Heineken, the Bison, the Sharks, the Tiffany’s, Hemp,
Buck, the Jedis, the Hulk, the list goes on and on. It’s important to understand
that collabs outside of the skateboard
industry were also a huge part of Nike SB’s success. They collabed with clothing
brands like Stussy, and Levi’s. Legendary graffiti artist Futura, music acts like MF Doom, and De La Soul, and the rock band, Dinosaur Jr. The cross promotion that
came from these collabs together with the
exclusivity of each release is what made the Nike Dunk the most collectable sneaker of its era. There is some people that argue that they even birthed modern
day sneaker culture with all the crazy camp
outs, hype and re-sellers. Now, I can’t make this
video without briefly talking about Jeff Staple and Nike’s tribute to New York City. This shoes’ release was the absolute apex of Nike Skateboarding. The hype for this shoe was so massive that it sparked a full on riot. It’s one of sneaker
history’s craziest moments and that’s why we are going to dedicate a whole other video to this shoe. As consumers’ tastes shifted,
the hype began to die down. The SB Dunk was no longer
held in the same regard. Nike SB had grown
exponentially over the decade, signing top pro skaters
like Paul Rodriguez, Stefan Janoski, and Eric
Koston, each who have all had their own signature pro model and have done incredibly well. Yes, it’s true that
Nike SB remains cemented in skateboard culture and
continues to be a major influence, but sneaker heads became disinterested. Mainstream sneaker
collectors and resellers began favoring Nike models such as the Airmax, anything with fly-nit tech, huaraches and Jordan’s. Well guys, now that
the hype has died down, I’m sure there’s some SB Dunk collectors who are happy about this. If you’ve ever collected SB Dunks, then leave a comment below. If you enjoyed watching this video, don’t forget to smash the like button, and please subscribe for
some more dope content. We really appreciate
you guys taking the time to watch our videos,
it really means a lot, and we’re so happy to be making
this content for you guys. We’ll see you guys next time. (gentle music)

100 comments

I owned a skateshop for 20 years in Bakersfield CA Brand's like Nike Adidas converse etc. Really HURT skateboarding Brand's like emerica es etnies fallen circa vox I had all the Brand's but vans & Nike sb got greedy not letting shops order only what sell (ie black/white janoski etc.)if u ordered 15k in authentic & era vans then they made u buy 7.5k in softgoods tshirts hats jeans most people didn't want so ur stuck with 5k off vans apparel Nike made u buy ugly model u couldn't get rid of believe me THEY DO NOT CARR ABOUT MOM & POP SHOPS SMFH!!!

My first SB pair were olive green with the logo being sky blue, can't seem to find them anywhere now.

I don't care who buys what brand or anything but only people that don't skate say "eee ess" about the shoes

Profit is the least scamful thing on this doomed planet. More profit simply means more brilliant makers and satisfied buyers. More profit simply means more happy and prosperous people.

Back in the day I actually skated in Air Force 1's until I saved enough to buy dunks and when I finally did I instead spent it on a pair of Air Jordan 1's it was worth it.

Nike is cool, I love rocking my AJ 4's and 5's, but they should have stayed the fuck out of the industry.

They undercutted the competition through cheap labor costs and mass production in Chinese sweatshops. How is a core brand like Circa, Adio, or Axion supposed to compete with against Nike's $60 shoes that were produced with $25 BOM? Muska's CM line were at least $80 to $100, and they were produced using $65 worth of materials.

This is the reason why no one wanted Nike in the skate shoe game. We have gotten to the point where the only competition they face is from Addidas and NB, both corporate brands.

i never had dunks but i had a koston 2 during my grade school days, it was my main skate shoes during that time and thats what i did wrong. After watching this video, im regretting i didnt take care of such hard to find shoes 🙁

Been collecting since 2012 mainly classic Nike models, been wearing dunks since 2007 been wearing blazers since 2009 and Jordan 1’s since 2010 all of which I skate now. Plus some other shit vans ice creams blah blah. Either way I say all that to say I’ve watched classic Nike models come in and out of style and tbh since the lobsters, Travis always showing off some rare ass dunks, and the upcoming SB collabs the hype will be back soon. I’m tryna get all I can now before the price jumps and I can’t hardly get anything anymore. It’s all a cycle. The only thing that stayed consistently expensive is yeezys. From 2009-2019 they always been too damn expensive.

Okay how the hell do you make a video that talks about skating and mispronounce éS, I’m not hating or anything I’m just like come on, it’s one of the coolest brands out there. 😭

Early 2000's i just entered the military and dunks was the shoe of choice for me and all my friends. They where cheaper then AF1's and there were more colorways as well! It's just a fly shoe to have!

great video. much better than the vans one. love the content. coming from a skater. can't wait for the staple pigeon video if it hasn't been released yet. keep doing what you're doing. it's working!

I prefer dunks over jordans anytime. Too bad they are soooooo hard to come buy. If they are available, my 3rd world salary would not afford it.

I have new Nike SB for sale from the 70s with original box and a book where they in.
Who like to buy them?
It's a collectors item.

Fuck Nike SB. They said they’d never be sold outside of a skate shop, then they broke their promise. Then once they broke their promise they gave big box athletic store special deals they wouldn’t give skate shops. They killed skate shops with their predatory business tactics. They made the skateboarding industry a lame corporate landscape of soda and jock companies. Then the hypebeasts that don’t skate or care about skateboarding just make them even cornier.

Great video! But you need to change the image of Peter Moore. The image you use in the video is Peter Moore (from the gaming industry EA and Xbox). Watch ESPN's 30 for 30 "Sole Man" here they interview the real Peter Moore who designed the Jordan 1 & 2 before Tinker took over.

Bruh this info is exhaustive, thank you for the break down, classic stuff. I got 245 just Nike Dunks but still looking for a couple grails you showed here

I never skated the SB but copped a free pair of Jordans. They were terrible to break in
I loved the Chukka Lows, the Hermans, PJ Ladds. Anything minimal with decent protection but good board feel.

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