Close your eyes and think back to a time when you were a young child. You're wearing your favorite pair of shoes as you and your friends are headed to the park for a worry-free day filled with baseball or football, or whatever else your crew did back in the day. These are the feelings of nostalgia that Bodega is looking to evoke with the upcoming release of its Nike Dunk High "Legend."
2020 has unofficially been the year of the Nike Dunk. Virgil Abloh got things underway in December of 2019 with three Off-White variations of the iconic Swoosh-brand silhouette. Since then, we've seen a flurry of both new and old colorways, including the return of some colorways from the beloved "Be True To Your School" collection.
To help round out a banner year for the Dunk, Boston's own Bodega is bringing the world a unique collaboration that harkens back to the shop's history as well as the silhouette's. The Bodega x Nike Dunk High "Legend" is slated to officially release on Dec. 28 at Bodega for $120, and will be followed by a drop on the Nike SNKRS app. Just this week, the shop’s Instagram account gave the sneaker world a first look into the collab's inspiration, alluding to a clear baseball theme, but after speaking with Drew White, the store's designer, it's clear that it is much more than that.
"There's a few different trains of thought with the inspiration as a whole, but it's very much not a singular concept," White says. "Baseball does sort of carry the design language and it's what people recognize right off the bat. It just goes back to the whole idea of nostalgia, sort of youthful innocence, and playground pickup games."
White explains that Bodega is yearning to leave a legacy with this release while paying homage to past Dunk releases—the likes of the Nike SB Dunk Low "Shanghai 2," the Nike Dunk Low "Curry," the Nike SB Dunk Low "Reese Forbes Wheat," and the Nike SB Dunk Low "Slam City." Of course, any true fan of Bodega's work with Nike will notice a striking resemblance to their trio Nike Air Footscapes from 2011 as well.
"That year that the Footscape came out is when I started at the shop," White says. "Marvin [Bynoe] and Randy [Price] were the original two designers and they worked on the Footscape and they created the Footscape, and I definitely wanted our Dunk to seem related to the Footscape. Like it was its uncle or something like that."
Earlier this year Bynoe passed away, and White made it a point to emphasize the influence that he had on the shop as well as their drive to honor the legacy that he left behind through the release of this Dunk. White went on to say that with a lot of people admiring Bynoe's work behind the scenes, this is a good way for Bodega and the city of Boston to earn more public recognition.
One of the most striking design elements featured on this project is its tortoise-shell jewel Swoosh. Primarily reserved for the brand's Air Force and Air Max lines, White and the rest of the Bodega design team looked to further create nostalgia with this addition, looking back to the 1990s and early 2000s when jewel Swooshes first started gaining popularity. As far as tortoise goes, that detail was chosen to stick out from jewel Swooshes past, and will match a pair of sunglasses the shop plans to release as well.
A lot of different elements are working together to make this Dunk what it is, which was clearly a tactical decision made by White.
"It was just meant to have this sort of folklorish, handcrafted kind of feel just to go with the whole idea," White says. "There's these three things that sort of happened. It's like the baseball idea comes through and the use of leather and rawhide and such, then you have these Western cowboy boots stitch details throughout the shoe, and then you have the tortoise-shell Swoosh."
The sneaker is meant to look like a memory, some kind of alternate Dunk prototype that you heard about but couldn't locate the existence of. It's a hazy recollection of something mythical that may not have ever existed. For White, there's a clear connection here to the story of Bodega, a shop made special because of its elusiveness and word-of-mouth charm.
"This shoe is about restoring the feeling," he says, "to a time when things felt more special, covetable, and close to home."