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The history behind Nike's Dunk Low "Viotech"

Ups and downs of a legendary silhouette

The history behind Nike's Dunk Low Viotech Ups and downs of a legendary silhouette

It all started with an Instagram post, or almost. Last November Virgil Abloh, traveling from Paris Charles de Gaulle, posted on Instagram a photo where through his transparent Rimowa x Off-White you can recognize the unmistakable colorway of a Nike Dunk Viotech. In the following month Virgil posted two photos with multicolored Dunks at his feet, sparking the hype of his followers. And while prices on reselling sites splashed over three hundred euros and many discovered Nike's historic model for the first time. The Dunk Viotech, on the other hand, has a glorious history behind it and it is no coincidence that both Abloh and Nike have decided to bring it back into vogue. On December 10th they will be released for the third time.

The Dunks' trend is back in 2018, following the cyclical currents of fashion, thanks to new collaborations with historic brands such as Diamond Supply Co. and Concept. The year before, a new version of the Pigeon, the Dunk that in 2005 inaugurated the real sneakergame, had relaunched the model designed by Peter Moore after years of absence from the catalogs. This year the Dunks in collaboration with Parra and Supreme were just the starter ahead of the release of the Dunks designed by Abloh himself in a new iteration of the Nike x Off-White collabo.

When Dunk Viotech was first launched in 2002, Nike was at the peak of its policy of territorial releases with limited editions different from continent to continent, designed for certain markets, immediately becoming cult pieces on the other side of the globe. Dunks were also hugely popular at the time, thanks to their state-of-the-art technology and endless colorways available. They were the sneakers most contested by collectors, who went crazy to grab the rarest and most exclusive versions. One of the most sought after was the Viotech model, which, with its red, blue, orange, green and obviously purple suede panels, redefined the idea of color blocking. 

It was created exclusively for the Japanese market and was unofficially included in the "Ugly Ducking" Pack. This included the "Plum", the "Veneer" and the "Ceramics", all released in 2001, and were one of the first attempts by Nike to enter the skateboarding market through the glorious Pro B line. Bodecker, ushering in at least one lustre of Dunk hegemony on the imagery of world sneakerheads. Viotech perfectly represents that brief moment of passage, interpreting that feeling of pure creativity, of hybridization between the various cultures at play and of simple fun. A shoe that stood out without taking himself seriously and introduced one of the most iconic colors ever created by Nike.

Also a Japanese brand, Atmos, will resume the Viotech the following year which will quickly become a Grail. Last year Aleali May, the second female designer to collaborate with Jordan, proposed a reimagining of the Jordan 1 following the same colour blocking as Viotech and adding a fur border on the tongue. In 2019, however, two models of the Air Max 90 were released that took direct inspiration from the original palette. Now, however, the bold coupling of primary colors has become coveted not only by collectors but also by simple enthusiasts who have recently approached the world of sneakers, as we have seen for example with the success of the 97/1 designed by Sean Wotherspoon.

But that wasn't always the case: when Nike first decided to bring the Viotechs back to life, it failed miserably. It was 2013, a time when Asics and New Balance signed the most daring collaborations and Adidas eroded Nike's undisputed dominance of the previous decade. Basketball shoes still dominated the market, and palettes began to shift to neutral, monochrome colors that would soon become popular with the arrival of the Yeezy. At the time, Viotech was far from the fashions of the moment and relegated to the world of skateboarding. The release went bad, due to many factory defects and poor material quality and prices on the secondary market immediately plummeted. It was not difficult immediately to come across pairs sold on Facebook groups dedicated to sneakerheads and resell sites less than half of the retail.

Now is the right time: the Dunks are back among the shoes most desired by the public. The secondary market for the most iconic models has exploded in recent months, thanks in part to the advertising made to them by Travis Scott, who wears them in every possible situation. It is therefore no coincidence that Virgil Abloh chose this Nike model for his own reimagining, nor that he posted several teasers on Instagram.

There is no point in pointing out the impact that Instagram has had on the world of sneakers: since it arrived, the speed with which we consume new trends has increased, but above all the perceptions and desires of enthusiasts have changed radically. The success of 97/1 Wotherspoon and The Sacai Waffle teaches us how even the most daring pairings can suddenly become cult objects. What has been the Dunk Viotech for almost twenty years: finally one of the most popular models ever will be available again.