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Be True to Your school

An Ode To Nike’s Most Iconic Marketing Campaign

Editorials

Melanie Kwok
July 14, 2021

Nike’s iconic dunk has seen a resurgence with the Nike SB Dunk collabs and even a large growing demand for Nike to re-issue its iconic basketball silhouette from the mid-80s. Considered to be a close cousin of the Air Jordan 1, the Nike Dunk High was developed by Nike in various original colorways to match the team colors of various college basketball teams. This led to the “Be True To Your School” campaign which introduced a slew of team-specific colorways, some of which we even saw re-released in 2020.

Via Nike, various
Via Nike, various

Nike’s iconic dunk has seen a resurgence with the Nike SB Dunk collabs and even a large growing demand for Nike to re-issue its iconic basketball silhouette from the mid-80s. Considered to be a close cousin of the Air Jordan 1, the Nike Dunk High was developed by Nike in various original colorways to match the team colors of various college basketball teams. This led to the “Be True To Your School” campaign which introduced a slew of team-specific colorways, some of which we even saw re-released in 2020.

via Nike, various
via Nike, various

The year 1985 saw Nike strike deals with the University of Michigan, University of Kentucky, University of Iowa, Georgetown, Syracuse, St. John's and UNLV to make the original Dunk High their teams official shoe. And now, more than 35 years later Nike continues to retro these classics, which have gained a cult following for their vintage yet evergreen look. Very recently, we saw the Syracuse and Kentucky dunks return in a low variant, while the ever popular Michigan dunk stayed true to being a high top sneaker for its 4th retro since the originals were released in 1985.

off-white-dunks.jpg
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A true testament to the popularity of the original Dunk High can be seen when you account for the fact that designers such as Virgil Abloh have taken their own spin on the low versions of the original colorways. Featured above is the Off-White Nike Dunk line, 2 of which have been based off the Michigan and UNLV colorways of the original release. Travis Scott has also been seen wearing the Wu Tang dunks on feet, which were a collaborative modification of the University of Iowa’s ‘Goldenrod’ colorway featuring the Wu-Tang logo embroidered on the heel cup. Method Man, a wu tang clan member, has also requested Nike to retro these sneakers, which have become highly sought after due to their age (21 years) and limited release.

via Nike, various
via Nike, various

However, Nike didn’t just stop there. Since the Nike Dunk was a predecessor to the SB Dunk, for its 20th anniversary a skate-friendly version of each original colorway was made. Nike Skateboarding stayed true to the Dunk and kept each colorway original, but geared each pair for skateboarding with full premium leather and suede builds. This made for a remaster that OG Skaters fell in love with, especially since the BTTYS (Be True To Your School) Series was Nike’s way of re-affirming the fans that they were still dedicated to preserving the campaign’s iconic place in history.

Now that your are caught up and familiar with the history, you may be enticed to buy some dunks for your own collection. If you are looking to complete your vintage sneaker collection head over to Ox street to grab your grails, no matter which release it may be. For more sneaker news and market drops, remember to sign up as a user on Ox Street, and earn credits when you refer your friends to join our marketplace.

Melanie is a contemporary art enthusiast, writer and cultural research strategist whose practice explores the areas inbetween art, design, commerce and the cult of collecting.