Nike Dunk SB Habibi
Nike Dunk SB Habibi
Where is it from? The shoe is a collaboration between Nike SB (Nike's skateboarding division) and Frame, a trio of businesses in the Dubai Design District that consists of a boutique, a ramen shop, and a cafe. Frame was founded as a "Japanese lifestyle culture shop" in 2017 by Peter Ahn, an expat from South Korea. He designed the "Habibi" Dunk as an homage to his adopted home. Fittingly, the sneakers released first at Frame on Dec. 2, coinciding with UAE National Day. While bakeries punctured croissants with miniature flags and beaches were dotted with bigger ones, Frame's Dunk arrived as another red, white, black, and green symbol of the holiday.
The Frame x Nike SB Dunk Low "Habibi" went global on Saturday, Dec. 5, releasing at SB accounts worldwide to the same kind of fanfare that has accompanied other specialty Dunks in this year of renewed interest in the retro silhouette. It is a reversal of the traditional flow of sneaker ideas between the Middle East and the rest of the world, a rare moment for the region to give something of its culture through shoes. But its roots aren't entirely Emirati. So where is it from?
The sneaker started in Amsterdam, where Ahn first designed it in early 2019. He was there for a Nike event called the Club 58 Summit, a meeting of SB retailers from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa that featured a Shark Tank-style competition where shop owners got to pitch ideas for their own SB collaborations. Getting your own sneaker can literally put your store on the map, transforming it from local spot to destination. It's a dream scenario for owners like Ahn, who sometimes spend years trying to convince Nike their clout is sufficient to warrant a collab. At the competition in Amsterdam, he had just a couple of hours.
"Fortunately, as an avid Nike head, I had a few designs in my mind already," he says, "and put together the proposal for the design that felt the most appropriate at that point in my life and told the story of Frame."
Ahn sent the concept to his shop team and friends in Dubai, who sent back a detailed drawing of what would eventually become the "Habibi" Dunk. It had two Swooshes sitting on top of each other, two tongues, and a red, white, black, and green colorway nodding to Frame's home country. It also had the Arabic transliteration of "Nike" in place of the brand name's typical hit on the heel. The design won the competition, earning Ahn and Frame the right to release a shoe with Nike SB.
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