Nike Dunk Retro QS “University Red”
Four decades after the inception of the slam-dunk, Nike was just over 10 years old and basketball’s popularity was surging. The year was 1985. It will go down as one of the most pivotal years for Nike Basketball as it marks the year the Nike Dunk was born.
Conceived from the hustle of a young design team, the Nike Dunk basketball shoe was driven by performance innovation that naturally translated to street style. The design solidified Nike’s focus on basketball and reinforced its obsession with creating product to make athletes better.
Sport was en-vogue and basketball sneakers now had off-court popularity, even hitting the fashion world. The Nike Dunk’s 1985 debut, with an evolved silhouette from its big brother, the Air Force 1 born three years prior, showcased design lines with bold color blocking. The shoe launched at the perfect time, energizing basketball culture in unexpected ways.
Originally sketched by designer Peter Moore and called the College Color High, the Nike Dunk was an artistic mash-up of different shoes, a common design practice at Nike for ‘80s basketball shoes.
The Dunk’s outsole resembled the same traction design of the Air Jordan I, which launched just months before. The Dunk’s upper took cues from the Air Jordan I and the Nike Terminator; interestingly, the three shoes were all developed by the same design minds. The Dunk drew its eventual name from the shoe last on which it was created―the same last used to make the Nike Legend, considered the best fitting basketball last at that time.
In the 1980s, college basketball was reaching new heights among a wide age range of athletes and fans. From east to west rivalries were strong and network TV brought college hoops to the masses.
During the summer of 1985, Nike delivered footwear in the school colors of popular basketball programs allowing fans to support their favorite teams from head to toe. The Nike College Colors program was officially established. The advertising tagline ‘Be True to Your School’ emerged and centered around 12 key schools.
The memorable ‘Be True to Your School’ print ad features the Nike Dunk as the centerpiece of Nike’s College Colors program, the first campaign featuring bold colours on basketball shoes including the University Red colourway seen here.
College Colors teams included UNLV, Arizona, Iowa, Georgia, Syracuse, Georgetown and Kentucky. It was introduced as part of an August 1985 basketball campaign that included colour-coordinated footwear, apparel and bags.
Nike Dunk Retro QS