Something wicked this way walks from Nike Skateboarding and the sinister mind of Sean Cliver. This December heads will roll as an otherworldly darkness manifests in the form of a horned beast with forked tongue, roaming the countryside in search of those both rowdy and rascally. The limited edition Krampus Dunk High SB is upon us, and naughty has never been so nice.
Drawing from the holiday folklore of Eastern Europe, this unique release is the brainchild of one of skateboarding’s most notorious graphic artists. Never one to steer away from controversy, Sean Cliver has been pushing buttons on the bottoms of boards for over twenty years now, with some of skating’s most infamous graphics under his belt. Armed with an amazingly mischievous mind coupled with the most intricate of hand styles, Cliver’s often snide work is instantly recognisable to rippers worldwide. This Dunk represents Sean’s first official venture into the realm of shoe design, and it seems perfectly fitting that a hoofed holiday horror would provide sole motivation for the artist’s much-anticipated design.
For those not familiar with the Krampus legend, our muse is a rather unsightly and wicked fellow long established in European Christmas tradition as something of an accomplice to good ol’ St. Nick, but for those unfortunate children finding themselves absent from Santa’s all-important “nice” list at year’s end. Providing stark contrast to the bloated bearded jolly of his counterpart, this beast boasts razor-sharp antlers and a hell-spawned fur both matted and splattered from his devilish pursuits. A far cry from the benign lump of coal, Krampus traditionally tends to these serial offenders with a sack, a switch and some chains before consuming them voraciously. Bah humbug!
As one would imagine, the imagery passed down through the years surrounding such a provocative legend is as fascinating as it is grizzly, providing impeccable fodder for a Cliver masterpiece, and he most certainly did not disappoint. What lays before us is red-and-black ode to the darker side of Yuletide cheer, a place where “nice” left town a long time ago and Santa doesn’t even think about stopping. Faux goat hair and cracked leather combine with a red-flecked black sole to make for dead-on extension of the hooved heathen at the height of netherworld fashion. A fur-lined inner replicating the look and feel of a stocking is not only an ingenious riff on the Christmas theme but also comes bearing gifts in the form of exclusive Cliver artwork on the insole and tongue.
Sean’s amazing design gives careful attention to each diabolical detail with a resourceful approach to make even Krampus crack a smile. “My favourite part about the shoe is that it came out with this super tactile-feel from all the different materials used. I’m not even the touchy-feely type but I’m all about feeling these up,” says Cliver.
This same texturised approach can be seen in the accompanying crackled leather hat and limited edition t-shirts that are also set to emerge from the darkness in the wake of Krampus’ yearly visit. Nike Skateboarding will be issuing a Cliver-designed pair of Dri-Fit shirts both bearing the beast’s mark just in time to give you a hoven leg-up on this year’s potential Krampuskarten costumes. Christmas just came early. So proceed with caution. We will soon find ourselves deep inside the black heart of Krampus season. Be prepared. Nobody’s safe.