Nike SB is NIKE, Inc.'s skateboarding subdivision. Founded in March 2002 and formerly led by the late Sandy Bodecker, Nike SB is often credited for modern-day sneaker collecting because of its limited, concept-driven releases.
While Nike SB as it's known today began in the early-2000s, The Swoosh's earliest attempt to enter the skateboarding space took place in the 1990s. With the help of a young Brandon Cole “Bam” Margera, Nike launched the Nike Choad, Nike Snak, and Nike Schimp to little commercial success and interest from skaters. (Margera notoriously skated in non-Nike shoes and taped Swoosh logos on them.) The late Bodecker, who began working at Nike in 1982, recognized that die-hard skaters had already been using Nike silhouettes like the Air Jordan 1 and Nike Blazer.
Under Bodecker's guidance, Nike SB officially launched its first and most popular silhouette, the Nike SB Dunk, as a skate-ready take of the Nike Dunk High for basketball. The re-engineered Nike SB Dunk featured a fat, padded tongue, Air Zoom insole, raised, exaggerated profile logo on ollie areas, and modified rubber sole for traction. While appreciated by skaters, these details arguably came second to Nike SB's revisited marketing strategy. Unlike the brand's previous corporate-style strategy (which directly opposed common anti-establishment sentiment among skaters), Bodecker's approach was grass-roots-oriented: Nike SB releases would not be mass-produced and distributed through big-box sportswear retailers. Instead, pairs would be available directly through select, independent skate shops.
Over the years, Nike SB has hosted professional skaters the likes of Lance Mountain, Paul Rodriguez, Stefan Janoski and Shane O’Neill. Nike SB's earliest team included Richard Mulder, Reese Forbes, Gino Iannucci and Danny Supa, all of whom received the first four Nike SB Dunk Lows.
Notable Nike SB releases include collaborations with Diamond Supply Co., Supreme and Jeff Staple, just to scratch the surface. Some Nike SB releases, like “Paris,” “Raygun” and “What The Dunk” versions of the SB Dunk Low, have garnered grail-status among many collectors, fetching six-figure buyouts on the after-market.
Though Nike SB experienced mainstream lull throughout the latter 2010s, the skateboarding imprint has regained widespread attention from casual consumers in 2020, thanks in large part to Travis Scott and Virgil Abloh. Enthusiasts of both the sport and imprint have been enjoying and skating in models like the Nike SB Blazer Low and Nike SB GTS Return, among others.