Nike and the Grateful Dead are jamming together.
And the result are these cool new sneakers — the Nike SB Dunk Low Grateful Dead shoes.
Soon to be the preferred footwear of Deadheads from coast to coast, these Grateful Dead Nikes will be available in three colors — yellow, orange and, the best-looking of the bunch, green — and borrow from some of the band’s most iconic imagery. They are part of Nike’s skateboarding SB imprint, which was founded by the late sportswear giant Sandy Bodecker.
Of course, these new Grateful Dead kicks feature the group’s famed dancing bears, which have adorned car bumpers, backpacks and bootleg concert T-shirts for decades.
You’ll find a dancing bear grooving away on the front of each of the shoes’ tongues. But the bear-ish detailing doesn’t stop there. What’s even more awesome is the faux bear “fur” to be found all around the shoe and how the Nike Swoosh is frayed to properly mimic the bear’s collar.
The dancing bears have a long history with the band, having made their debut on the back cover of 1973’s “History of the Grateful Dead, Volume 1 (Bear’s Choice).” These joyful critters reference Owsley “Bear” Stanley, the Dead’s former patron, sound system pioneer and, yes, the “Bear” in “Bear’s Choice.”
“As the band’s benefactor, Bear was an incredibly huge part of the Grateful Dead’s ability to become who they were,” says David Lemieux, the band’s archivist. “They were talented musicians, but they would not have had the financial freedom to forgo jobs, move to Los Angeles and practice for 14 hours a day. The band wouldn’t become what it is today without Bear’s innovations and contributions. The same fiercely independent spirit from Bodecker helped create that authenticity within the skate community.”
Also, not surprisingly, these shoes also riff on the band’s most iconic logo — the “Steal Your Face” skull — which you can see by looking on the underside of the tongue.
And speaking of the tongue … that’s where you’ll find a little zipper stash pocket, which I’m thinking will be a very convenient place to store your house key while you skate about town in your new shoes.
The orange GD sneaks hit July 18 and are available through San Francisco skateboard clothing/lifestyle company FTC (ftcsf.com), which — appropriately enough — got its start in Haight-Ashbury. The yellow offerings are released on July 24 through nike.com and at select skateboard shops. The green ones drop the same day as the yellow, but only at select shops.
The shoes run $110, and they’ll likely just fly off the shelves.
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