It's easy to forget that the beating heart of Nike SB is actual skateboarding. The sub-label earned a lot of its cachet in the mid 2000s by releasing sneakers inspired by everything from alcoholic beverages to underground rappers, but before all that, it signed skaters to rep its product. Nike SB's collaborations over the years have not ignored this, striking a balance between cross-cultural partners and ones entrenched in the world of skate. For every shoe like the Staple "Pigeon" Dunk, released via a store and designer with little connection to the sport, there needs to be a Diamond "Tiffany" Dunk, conceptualized by an actual skate hardware company.
Although the people who weaponized an army of bots to try and cheat the release may not realize it, the StrangeLove Dunk comes from an actual skate company. This is an important note in 2020, when Nike SB has caught some criticism for its partnerships with entities that have little to do with SB on a surface level. StrangeLove is the board brand of Sean Cliver, the artist behind some of the best skate graphics of all time. He's worked on Dunks before—the "Krampus," "Disposable," and "Gasparilla"—but none of those resonated quite like this. The shoe arrived around Valentine's Day as a love letter to skateboarding, with holiday-appropriate colors, logo hit on the heel, and a durable suede made to take a beating. There was even a special packaging version fashioned after grade school Valentine's Day boxes. Why did this sneaker mean so much where Cliver's others fell quiet? His connection was closer, meaning the final product was more intimate. Call it a labor of love. — Brendan Dunne