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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Nike SB: How Nike Conquered The Skateboarding Industry

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- [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.

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We really appreciate you guys taking the time

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and we're so happy to be making this content for you guys.

We'll see you guys next time.

(gentle music)

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