UNDEFEATED x Nike: all releases. Part #1


In fact, the Dunk High Undefeated is the Nike's first collaboration with a Boutique; an event that will inaugurate a successful season, which will go on to consolidate over time, transforming the trainer market for years to come.

The first collaboration and bet, the Nike Dunk High and the consecration, the Air Force 1.

This story begins in Los Angeles, in 2002.

The City of Angels has just emerged unscathed from the threat of the Millennium Bug, freeing itself from the pessimistic grip that held back its vibrant energy, pre-2000. The bug has morphed into a beautiful butterfly, fluttering lightly amidst the artistic ferment and creative experimentation; the vibrant tones of its wings color the graffiti around the city, the tees and trainers of the skaters who train every day on the Venice Beach waterfront. The timing is perfect, the city is ready to welcome a streetwear and trainers’ boutique that will become – in a short time – the reference point of the city’s underground scene: UNDEFEATED.

The founders are two guys with a passion for streetwear and skating: Eddie Cruz and James Bond; already in the first few months after opening, there is a lot of hype around the store, which, thanks to Sneakers, sells big. On a day like any other, the decisive meeting happens: a Friend & Family distributor from Nike enters the shop and offers the two founders a collaboration that cannot be missed: the first Nike Dunk High x Undefeated.

It must be said that the Dunk at the time wasn’t the hype product it is now, and that was more of a gamble on Nike’s part that, in hindsight, turned out to be a real winner.

In fact, this is Nike’s first collaboration with a Boutique; an event that will inaugurate a successful season, which will go on to consolidate over time, transforming the trainer market for years to come.

The “Scarcity” of the 2002 Dunk High Undefeated  release generated an unprecedented “gold fever”: the phenomenon spurred the two brands to launch subsequent collaborations that, as we know, would continue for over a decade.

The first two Nike Dunk x UNDEFEATED.

In 2003 and 2005, a military-inspired Nike Dunk and a multicolored “No-Liner” design were launched; both released in a number of less than 100 pairs; it would have to wait until 2016 for a wider distribution of the legendary collabo.

Despite the general love for the Dunk High, it is probably the Low version that enjoys the most notoriety on UNDEFEATED and Nike’s shelves. The Nike Dunk Low x Undefeated “Splatter” has a color scheme inspired by L.A. graffiti, a detail that literally conquers all; reaching the peak of fame in 2008, with the Nike Dunk Low Premium “Splatter” Hyperstrike: only 24 pairs released worldwide. This last trainer was made exclusively for a shoot for the Los Angeles-based fashion magazine Metro.Pop.

But the trainer of the East Coast always remains Air Force 1.

Our mutual friends did not miss the opportunity to create one of the most coveted and rare models of the iconic model born in 1982: 2006 saw the birth of the Air Force 1 x UNDEFEATED “Shemagh”, an extremely rare edition of only 500 pieces worldwide inspired by ancient Middle Eastern headgear: a gem destined for very few. It will be followed by the “Fukijama” colour scheme created exclusively for the cast of actors from Entourage – a cult HBO series aired since 2004 – and illustrated by a fictitious Japanese artist called, precisely, “Fukijama”. The trainer is rightly considered one of the most beautiful AF1s of all time, produced in only 100 examples and designed by Nike designer Mark Smith.

A second version, this time from 2009, is gold in colour and features Mark Smith‘s handmade lasering all over the upper.

The UNDEFEATED x Air Force 1 “Fukijama Gold” appears in “What About Bob?”, the eleventh episode of the show’s third season, in which Turtle, the childhood friend of protagonist Vincent Chase, is unable to purchase a very rare pair of Air Force 1s, created by an imaginary artist named Fukijama.

After a despondent Turtle spends his hours camped outside the UNDEFEATED headquarters in Santa Monica and sees DJ AM buying the latest pair of shoes, he leaves disconsolate. At that point comes the twist: Vince asks him to pick up the Air Force 1s directly from Fukijama himself.

Although this episode dates back to 2006, the UNDEFEATED x Air Force 1 ‘Fukijama Gold’ was only launched in 2009 and never sold to the public. It is said, in fact, that the 100 or so pairs produced were given to the Entourage crew, others secretly sold in UNDEFEATED stores.

One of the rare remaining examples was auctioned at Sotheby’s in March 2021 and fetched $88,200: a world record for any Air Force 1.

Our initiatory journey to discover the best UNDEFEATED x Nike releases stops here momentarily. We’ll continue with the Nike Undefeated drops dedicated to the one and only Kobe Bryant, take flight with the Air Jordans and admire the eye-catching design of the Air Max.

All this in the next editorials, don’t miss them!



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