The resurgence of Nike Skateboarding has the attention of the sneaker world, with projects in the works that will expand reach even further.
Wildly-colored forthcoming Nike SB Dunk Lows are rumored to pay homage to the Grateful Dead Bears—a series of stylized dancing bears that first graced the back cover for the album History of the Grateful Dead, Volume One (Bear's Choice) in 1973. Since then, they've become a symbol of the band and the fun-loving spirit of its fanbase, inspiring a wide range of collectibles including plush toys, bumper stickers, magnets and even costumes.
The shoe itself is an interpretation of the actual bears. It features a fuzzy, faux fur upper and jagged Swoosh branding inspired by the bears' jester collars. You'll also notice a stash pocket behind the tongue, which aligns with a certain recreational activity that Deadheads are known to regularly partake in.
According to Instagram user underratedphotography, this pair is one of three "Grateful Dead Bear" shoes that will be releasing as part of a pack, reminiscent of the "Three Bears" Pack that dropped in 2006. There's no confirmed release date at the moment, but we'll continue to follow the story here at Sole Collector.
UPDATE (07/14): Following weeks of leaks and rumors, Nike SB has officially unveiled its collaboration with the Grateful Dead. Made up of three colorways (yellow, green, and an exclusive orange make up), the Grateful Dead x Nike SB Dunk Low emulates the band's marching bears mascot with a combination of faux fur and suede on the uppers. More than just a symbol, the bears represent the band's influential audio engineer, who was nicknamed Bear.
“As the band’s benefactor, Bear was an incredibly huge part of the Grateful Dead’s ability to become who they were,” says David Lemieux, Grateful Dead archivist and historian. “They were talented musicians, but they would have the financial freedom to forgo jobs, move to Los Angeles in 1966 and practice for 14 hours a day. While there’s not much about the bears that connect to the Grateful Dead’s success, the band wouldn’t become what it is today without Bear’s contribution. The same fiercely independent spirit from [Sandy] Bodecker (the late Nike SB GM responsible for some of the brand's most important shoes) helped create that authenticity within the skate community.”
For the rollout, Nike SB will release the orange colorway on Saturday, July 18 exclusively at FTC Skateboarding in San Francisco, steps away from the Haight-Ashbury house where the band got its start. That pair will be followed by green and yellow makeups on July 24 via SNKRS and select skate shops.
UPDATE (07/30): Following its exclusive release at FTC Skateboarding, the orange Grateful Dead x Nike SB Dunk Low has appeared on the Swoosh's official website. Despite this, it's unclear if a future wider release is planned, but we'll update this post if anything changes.