UPDATE 7/14/20: After months of speculation and scattered photo leaks, Nike and the Grateful Dead have officially announced their sneaker collaboration.

The orange colorway of the Nike SB Dunk Low Grateful Dead releases July 18th at FTC. The yellow colorway releases July 24th on SNKRS and at select skate shops, while the green colorway releases July 24th at select skate shops.

The announcement also goes into the history of the “dancing bear”, its connection to Owsley “Bear” Stanley, the band’s former audio engineer/LSD chemist, and how Bear’s impact on the Dead mirrors Nike SB founer Sandy Bodecker‘s impact on Dunk and skate culture.

As Grateful Dead archivist David Lemieux explained in a quote as part of Nike’s official announcement of the ‘Nike SB Dunk Low Grateful Dead,’ “As the band’s benefactor, Bear was an incredibly huge part of the Grateful Dead’s ability to become who they were. 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.”

For more information and to check out some official product photos, head here.

UPDATE 5/27/20: New photos making the rounds online show off additional colorways for the upcoming Grateful Dead-inspired Nike SB Dunk Low design. In addition to the green/blue version whose existence made headlines back in March, it appears the shoe will also come in a number of other color patterns.

The official release date is still unknown, but a label on the tongue of the shoe in one of the leaked photos seems to confirm that the shoes will arrive in 2020. Check out photos of some of the various colorways set to be included in the Grateful Dead/Nike sneaker collaboration:


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A closer look at the Grateful Dead x Nike SB Dunk Low #YellowBear scheduled to release soon. Thoughts? LINK IN BIO.

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[Originally published 3/31/20]: Photos have surfaced of a new Grateful Dead-inspired Nike SB Dunk Low design that will appeal to deadheads and sneakerheads alike. Featuring a bright green upper made of suede and a fuzzy faux fur material, the shoe is inspired by the band’s iconic dancing bear imagery, evident both in the use of fuzz, and the blue jagged-edged Nike swoosh on the side. The shoe also appears to feature a zippered “stash pocket” on the tongue, an apparent nod to the kinds of recreational activities with which Deadheads are often associated.

grateful dead nike, grateful dead bears

The bold colors match classic depictions of the dancing bears, and the prominent Nike “swoosh” logo is lined in a jagged pattern not unlike their cravat-like collars, or another piece of Grateful Dead iconology, the 13-point lightning bolt. Possible orange and yellow colorways are rumored to be on the way as well. The unusual choice of materials is reminiscent of the equally fuzzy dunks released in the Goldilocks-inspired “Three Bears Pack” in 2006. These shoes are likely to become collectors’ items, even if they are hard to wear unless you’re dressed up like a fuzzy dancing bear (which isn’t totally out of the question among fans of the Dead). For reference, the “Papa Bear” Dunk Highs, “Mama Bear” Dunk Mids, and “Baby Bear” Dunk Lows from 2006 now resell for over $1K a pair.

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The sneakerhead and Deadhead subcultures have both grown large enough to influence mainstream pop culture, and the frequency of collaborations between musical artists and sneaker brands is at an all-time high. Add to this the fact that John Mayer, one of the world’s most notable sneakerheads and major Nike supporter, now plays guitar with the Dead almost exclusively in Nike sneakers, and it becomes clear why the Nike x Grateful Dead collab was so predictable.

Also predictable were the mixed reactions that the outlandish design has received. Given deadheads’ rich tradition of textile dyeing and handmade crafts, it seems Nike may have missed an opportunity to offer a more bohemian or psychedelic design, which might have had a broader appeal than the cartoonish fuzzy dunks. It is unclear whether John Mayer had any hand in the design process, but it would not be out of step with his previous unofficial Nike collab, the Rick and Morty-inspired “Pickle Ricks,” which also had a wild, cartoon-inspired color scheme.

Nike has not yet announced an official release date, but it is likely that multiple colors will be released as a pack, with rumors of a California exclusive colorway to be included.


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[Originally published 3/31/20]