The legendary partnership returns with something special.
History of Parra x Nike
2005 – Air Max 1 Amsterdam
Let’s rewind to 2005, some might have vivid memories of Harry Potter 4 releasing, Hurricane Katrina striking, some of you might not even have been born. Nike is focusing mainly on Air Force 1 and Air Max 1 colourways, the most hyped silhouettes of the time.
As part of Nike’s Capitol Series, it attempts to honour the city of Amsterdam, and recruits Dutch Artist Piet Parra for a collaboration on an Air Max 1. A star is born. The start of a fruitful partnership between the artist and the sportswear brand is initiated, and will continue a joint path for years to come.
The Parra x Air Max 1 "Amsterdam" (2005)
2010 – Air Max 1 Cherrywood
5 years later, Nike and Parra release the “Cherrywood” – one of the most hyped and coveted Air Max 1 editions to date. Mainly sitting in collector’s vitrines, the shoe is almost impossible to obtain, but the colourway is legendary and a grail for many sneakerheads.
2018 – Air Max 1 & Air Zoom Spiridon
Fast forward to 2018, Yeezy is making headlines as the biggest threat to Nike's success. Nike's most popular silhouettes are sitting on shelves, people are seemingly unbothered about Flyknits and Air Max 1s.
Still, the collab reunites once again. The Air Max 1 receives a brand-new treatment, this time very reminiscent of Piet Parra’s characteristic palette of white, pink and light blue. An instant icon, the sneaker breaks through the current stigma against Air Max 1’s and re-sparks the hype toward the silhouette.
Air Max 1 "Parra" (2018)
However – this time around – the partnership also gave the flagship sneaker a little brother: the Nike Air Zoom Spiridon, once again applying Parra’s traditional colour choices onto the sleek silhouette. While the Spiridon was surely hyped, it could not reach the levels of the Air Max 1. Nevertheless, the entire collaboration was insane publicity for the Dutch artist, giving him more freedom to fully reap his creative potential. This has enabled him to scale-up his art and fashion production substantially in the recent years, partially attributable to the immensely successful collaboration with the American sportswear giant.
Air Zoom Spiridon "Parra" & Air Max 1 "Parra" (Friends & Family) – both 2018
2019 – SB Dunk Low & Blazer Low
Many thought that this marked the end of the beloved partnership, but a year later, the dynamic duo was back on track! As one of the first Nike SB Dunk Lows to receive a limited SNKRS-app release, the “Parra Dunk” may have been one of the flames that sparked the Dunk-hype we are still experiencing almost two years later.
Nike SB Dunk Low "Parra" (2019)
And deservedly so… the SB Dunk Low had previously seen special collaborations and colourways, we know the Lobsters, the Pigeons, the Tiffanys. But the Parra Dunk was kept so minimalistic, yet so reminiscent of the artist and his previous collaborations with Nike, that it really pushed the limits in terms of design potential on the SB Dunk Low. A fully white upper with a quadruple layer swoosh in the artist’s characteristic colours and small details hinting towards the collaboration. Truly a masterpiece.
Nike Dunk "Parra" and its Friends & Family version (both 2019)
The release was also accompanied by various pieces of clothing, including trousers, socks, tracksuits and caps – all featuring the Dutch artist's touch.
Again, the collaboration featured a younger brother: the Nike Blazer Low. Similarly, the sneaker was difficult to get and will cost you some resell, but it never obtained the levels of hype that the Dunk was – and is – experiencing.
Nike SB Blazer Low "Parra" (2019)
Another SB Dunk Low?
2021 – Parra Dunk 2.0?
Fast forward to today – 2021, the world is amidst a pandemic, summer is on it’s way, and – for some reason – the Dunk-hype is still going strong. Nike is rolling out new colourways on a near-daily basis, but every single one sells within seconds. Collaborations are frequent, Carpet Company, Travis Scott, Off-White, even Ben & Jerry’s – Nike has recruited them all.
Dutch artist Piet Parra
However – like everything else – all good things must come to an end. At some stage, the Dunks will not be the only sneaker that people have their eyes focused on anymore, the hype will die down at some stage. Then, only the best colourways will remain the special sneakers that carry all the memories and allow us to reminisce back into these times in years to come. Therefore, Nike must end it off with something special. And something special we have.
A few weeks ago, Piet Parra himself teased an image of a toe-box of – you guessed it – an SB Dunk Low, fully covered in – you guessed it again – Piet Parra’s iconic colours. Another collaboration on the way? Sneakerheads were getting thrilled, ecstatic, everyone was talking about it. Nobody really knew what the final sneaker would look like, but people were somewhat guaranteed that it would be special. One last Dunk Low?
In the following days, more images, mock-ups and renders of potential colourways made its way through social media channels. Even at this time, nobody is really certain what the final sneaker will look like, whether there will be multiple colourways, whether there are friends & family editions… Nike and Piet Parra are keeping it as mysterious as ever.
Parra Dunk 2.1
The image teased by Parra himself on Instagram shows a white leather toebox, similar to the previous version, but with the artists characteristic colours and patterns on the overlay around the toe.
Parra Dunk 2.2
The second leak was provided by @liljupiterr and showed images of a final product in-hand. This one was remarkably different, and received heavy criticism from fans and sneakerheads. Weird mashups of materials and colour-blocking just didn’t look as harmonic or clean as the previous models. Fans seemed disappointed at first, but had no idea of what was yet to come.
Parra Dunk 2.3
Weeks later, sneaker collector @yankeekicks provided high-quality on-feet images of another, completely revamped colourway of the Parra SB Dunk. Staying away from detailed patterns and graphics, this colourway made use of minimal asymmetrical colour blocking. While the left foot features panels of red, hot pink and orange suede, the right foot keeps it cool with deep blue and green shades overlaying the white base. Both sides feature a dominant black soowsh, a white midsole and a gum outsole to finish off the sneaker.
The latest leaked colourway of the SB Dunk Parra 2
Arguably, all three possible colourways are special in their own ways. Potentially, one of these will be a friends & family edition, one will see a more general release, and who knows what will happen to the third colourway! We will have to wait and see (as always) what Nike has in store for us this time.
Which of the potential colourways of the new Nike SB Dunk Low Parra 2021 would you be most excited about?
by Freddy Schwoerer of Drip Drops