The History of Nike Dunk a Sneaker Freak Favorite

It’s Sneaker Freak Friday, and it’s all about the Nike Dunk, one of my favourite pairs of sneakers. It is a fashion favourite of both men and women. Have them in the low and the high what Nike Dunk is your preference?

How can you not be a fan of the Nike Dunk? We have to admit that it was undeniably the most fabulous shoe of 2020. Introduced all the way back in 1985, it was designed specifically for college basketball players. And Spike Lee’s character Mars. Unveiled at around the same time as Michael Jordan’s still-legendary Air Jordan 1, it never gained the same status as his Airness’ signature shoe, but that just gave it more opportunity to dip into other genres and subcultures that had yet to be explored.

The History of Nike Dunk a Sneaker Freak Favorite

Over the next few years, it was seen as a relatively low-cost Nike model that was generally easy to buy. While many hyped collaborations did pop up every once in a while, it was nothing like what happened in 2020.

On the dawn of its 35th birthday, some of the industry’s most prominent fashion icons, such as Travis Scott and Virgil Abloh, set their sights on the Dunk. Like wildfire, the landscape was pretty much wholly transformed overnight, and suddenly, every single sneakerhead needed a pair in their collection. Now, do you want to know the difference is between every single type of Dunk?

The History of Nike Dunk a Sneaker Freak Favorite

What’s the difference between a “regular” dunk and an “SB”? How can you tell between a “Pro” and a “Pro B”? Style Cartel will answer all of these questions, so bookmark this page and keep scrolling; we are about to give you the DL on these iconic sneakers. 

Image via Nike

The History of Nike Dunk a Sneaker Freak Favorite


If you know, you know. The Nike Dunk 6.0 was specifically designed for action sports. Originally released during the black or gold box era of SB back in 2010, these were made from more rugged materials such as canvas and vulcanised rubber, making them ideal for BMX and Freeride Mountain Biking activities. While only a handful of 6.0s released, some highlights include the “Rasta” that made its debut in 2012 and the “DMC-12 “inspired by the DeLorean.


From a distance, Nike Dunk CLs look precisely like regular Dunks. It’s only when you physically handle them that you will begin to notice the difference. Standing for “Comfort Lining”, the inner lining has been beefed up for a more comfortable fit and feel. While it’s unclear when precisely the CL was introduced, supply was at an all-time high back in the early 2000s. With that said, you definitely won’t find a DS pair anywhere as these were mainly used as beaters back in the day.


Nike Dunk CMF

Like the CL, the Nike Dunk CMFT was made with comfort in mind but on a different shoe part. Focusing strictly on everything under the foot, the Beaverton brand gave Dunks a slightly revamped midsole, resulting in it being a little more streamlined and a lot more lightweight. Some of these pairs were even infused with Air-tech; in fact, the moniker is still running wild with the upcoming Air Jordan 1 CMFT that is sure to change the game once again.


CO.JP The History of Nike Dunk a Sneaker Freak Favorite

We all know what CO.JP means, and if you don’t, Short for “Concept Japan” and once the URL for Nike’s Japanese website, CO.JP paved the way for today’s collaboration-crazy world of footwear; the roots of everything from the “drop” model to the Nike SNKRS app can be traced back to it. “CO.JP is the architect. If it wasn’t for CO.JP, you wouldn’t have quick strikes, you wouldn’t have segmented distribution, you wouldn’t have Tier Zero releases, you wouldn’t have SNKRS,” says Staple Design founder and longtime Nike collaborator Jeff Staple. Standing for Concept Japan, Nike Dunk CO.JPs were made exclusively for the Japanese market in the mid-’90s and into the ’00s. These were produced when the Swoosh had just expanded over to Asia and were doing everything they could to win over sneakerheads in the East. While CO.JP Dunks seem like a thing of the past, they’re actually still being made, with one of the latest ones being the Mita x Nike Dunk Low CO.JP “OnkoChishin” from four years ago.

The History of Nike Dunk a Sneaker Freak Favorite Disrupt


One of the newest Dunk variants in the business, the Nike Disrupt, takes the iconic silhouette and slightly deconstructs the aesthetic. Taking cues from ’80s Nike Basketball shoes such as 1984’s Air Train, the Disrupt also looks into the future for inspiration, with a tongue and pull tab that seems to be borrowed from the Tom Sachs x Nike Mars Yard. These are for the ladies, but men have been squeezing their big feet into them.


The History of Nike Dunk a Sneaker Freak Favorite

While not many Dunks are labelled ISO these days, there are a few stilling dropping left, right, and centre. An acronym for In-Store Only, the Nike Dunk ISO is precisely what it says in the tin. Pairs like the recent Nike SB Dunk High ISO” Midnight Navy” were released exclusively in specific skate shops worldwide, making them a lot rarer than the usual pair. Interestingly enough, though, these don’t usually resell much, probably due to their generally simple design.

The History of Nike Dunk a Sneaker Freak Favorite  Nike Dunk LR


The Nike Dunk LR is probably one of the weirder Dunks out there. Releasing in the early ’10s, they were initially supposed to be part of the 6.0 line, but that series ended way before this one could even begin. Famously made with an extra fat tongue, LR stood for Lunarlon when that was still brand new. This technology was stuffed into a Vans-like midsole that took everything we loved about the Dunks and threw it in the trash. It’s safe to say that literally, nobody liked the LR, but sometimes you need to remember the past to plan for the future.

Lux Chukka

Riccardo Tisci Nike Dunk Lux Chukka

Does anyone really like chukka-inspired sneakers? Riccardo Tisci sure did; that’s why he introduced the Nike Dunk Lux Chukka back in 2017. Made just when he had stepped down as creative director of Givenchy after a twelve-year reign, this passion project was designed with exaggerated proportions and an oversized Swoosh that you could see from the moon. No other Lux Chukkas dropped after collab, but it’s still a worthy mention.


The Nike Dunk PRM can be split into so many different sub-lines, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll just keep it as it is. Clearly standing for Premium, this acronym has been used throughout the Beaverton brand’s range for sneakers, including the Air Force 1 and the Air Max 95. While it depends on everyone’s individual opinion, PRM pairs are generally made from more premium materials. A worthy mention is the Nike Dunk High PRM “Dark Russet” that’s expected to launch in February 2021. Crafted from leather, nubuck, and suede, you can see that it’s more luxurious without even touching it.

 Nike Dunk Pro

What exactly is a Nike Dunk Pro? I don’t think anyone can really answer this question. While many believe that it stands for Professional or Progressive, nothing makes Pro models stand out from the rest other than extra “Pro” branding. One of the most recent releases includes the Nike SB Dunk Low Pro “Elephant”, which pays homage to the atmos x Nike Air Max 1 “Elephant” from 2017. Does this story make it more “Pro”? Just like the true meaning of life, this may just be one of those questions that we’ll never get a solid answer to.

Pro B

If you weren’t confused enough, the Nike Dunk Pro B is also a thing. Contrary to popular belief, this line made its debut before the iconic SB and was the first model to feature a fat tongue, extra padding, and elastic straps. While more lifestyle-focused than its half pipe-ready counterpart, the Pro B has played a significant role in skate scenes worldwide. Two colourways worth mentioning include the “Smurf” and the “Putty”, which both released over two decades ago, back in 1999.


Nike Dunk QS pairs are only available at Tier 0 retailers meaning they’re constrained compared to the average release. Standing for Quickstrike, these include exclusive collaborations and special edition releases. One that immediately pops to mind is the Strangelove Skateboards x Nike SB Dunk Low QS from 2020. A shoe that helped kickstart the Dunk revolution was made in collaboration with Sean Cliver and is valued at £1000 to £4000 depending on the size.


While Regular is undoubtedly not the official term for a “normal” pair of Nike Dunks, with all these acronyms and abbreviations, it’s probably the best way to describe it. It’s not often that you find a Nike Dunk that’s not attached to any of these complicated code words, but the Dunk is, hands down, the most important of them all. Originally debuted back in 1985, it was initially a basketball shoe that was geared towards college athletes. As time went on, the silhouette began to get adopted by more and more sports and subcultures, to the point that we kind of forget its OG court side roots.


Of course, you can’t have a list explaining all the different types of Dunks without mentioning the Nike SB Dunk. Arguably the only kind that most modern sneakerheads know of, the skateboarding division was formed in 2002. Known to be one of the most exclusive lines, pairs dropped when it made its official debut in the most unconventional places. You wouldn’t be able to cop at an average Nike store like any other shoe. Instead, you’d have to wait in line for hours and hours outside of an independent skate shop for a pair. One of the most famous pairs includes the Nike Dunk SB Low Staple “NYC Pigeon”, which caused mass mayhem back in 2005 – something that Jeff Staple himself goes into more detail in our Under The Influence interview.

Image via Concepts


What can we say about the Nike Dunk SP? A term used to describe the Oregon brand’s Special Projects includes some collaborations and all NikeLab releases. One of the most recent variants has the return of the “Ugly Duckling” Pack, which included the “Ceramic”, the “Plum”, and the “Veneer”. Incidentally, these three were CO.JP pairs as well, releasing exclusively in Japan back in 2001. This just goes to show how confusing this naming system can potentially be.


And last but not least, we have the Nike Dunk Low Warmth. A limited run introduced back in 2014, the Warmth Pack comprised the Low and the High and were made to keep your feet warm during the wet and windy winter months. Crafted from a specially designed fuzzy fabric, there weren’t particularly popular among sneakerheads back in the day, but we definitely wouldn’t mind if they got a restock.

And that’s that! While we know for a fact that there are probably a billion other acronyms and abbreviations out there that we may have forgotten to include, these are the main ones to look out for. Did you know any of these? How many pairs of these do you currently have in your collection? 

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