Behind The Design
SB Dunk X Staple Panda
Creative “accidents” often yield the best surprises, and sometimes, they even result in coveted sneakers. Earlier this year, when designer Jeff Staple was moving offices, he went on Instagram and posted an early sample of the “Black Pigeon” Nike SB Dunks. The shoe had “test” colors — black, white, and green — which he jokingly compared to a “Panda.” Like wildfire, sneakerheads around the world were begging for the shoe to become a reality.
“I was trying to organize and unpack, but I ended up reminiscing on Instagram, like a history lesson of the culture, because I have so many artifacts,” says Jeff Staple. “I just wrote a funny caption, that I asked for ‘a pigeon not a panda,’ and it blew up.” At first, Staple wasn’t convinced that they should do a “Panda” version. “We had just dropped a dope shoe in November,” he adds. “I was happy to wait another decade.”
Staple changed his mind once he remembered going on the global launch tour for the black “Pigeon” SB Dunk. At the time, he was excited to see the growing sneaker community in China and knew that he wanted to do another tour, in the future, that would start in his motherland—China, and end in his home—New York City. With the panda’s connection to China, and the pigeon’s connection to NYC, everything about a “Panda” SB Dunk seemed to click.
“That rejected sample was actually 80% there,” says Staple. “The ‘Panda’ SB Dunk is the first time that there’s a ‘Pigeon’ shoe without the pink pigeon on it; it has bamboo green instead. We made a collage of the OG newspaper clippings and put them inside a clear outsole. The exterior Swoosh is white, and the interior Swoosh is the OG pigeon gray.”
Additional details include a green insole with a bamboo graphic, and the interior’s “SAMPLE" stamp typically found in early versions is altered to read “STAPLE / NOT FOR RESELL.” All shoes come in the classic pink box. There will also be “Panda” Staple x Nike SB apparel, with various colors exclusive to certain cities.
“This was really the people's champ shoe, in my opinion,” says Staple. “If they didn't essentially ask for this shoe, it wouldn’t have happened. I love that this came from the voice of the people.”