Sneakerheads everywhere are eagerly awaiting the Nike SB Dunk Low "Grateful Dead." The shoe, which is set to launch on July 24, is one of the hottest drops of 2020 — right up there with another recent, limited-edition Nike SB, the "Chunky Dunky" that was created with ice cream maker Ben & Jerry's. But, while hypebeasts are jumping up and down trying to figure out how they're going to get their next "grail," there's a particular group of people who feel the complete opposite about the collaboration: "Deadheads," aka hardcore fans of the legendary California-born rock band.
Not happy — On Monday, ahead of the sneaker's release, Grateful Dead took to Instagram to tease an online raffle for all three colors of its Nike SB Dunks, which includes an orange pair that is more limited than the blue or yellow. Unfortunately for the band, the post didn't generate the type of positive engagement it likely expected, as Deadheads didn't seem to appreciate the partnership with Nike." Jerry [Garcia, the band's late lead guitarist and vocalist] would be ashamed of this sweatshop produced garbage," read a comment on Grateful Dead's Instagram, likely referencing Nike's alleged use of unethical factories in the past.
"Please do not associate Jer[ry] with these pathetic sweatshop shoes by using an old clip," another Deadhead piled on. "He would not approve of Nike's enslaved workers." The sportswear giant has historically denied these allegations, which date back to the 1970s and included accusations of child labor, claiming it had little control over the sub-factories it contracted to make products in countries like China and Taiwan. Still, in 2002, Nike began auditing over 600 problematic factories and monitoring working conditions, a long-overdue effort that seems to have mitigated the issue.
Real fans — Despite Nike's name not exactly being associated with sweatshops anymore, at least not as much as decades ago, the Grateful Dead loyal can't seem to get on board with this move by the band. "I love you guys, but where has your integrity gone?" another commenter said. "Nike? For real?" Beyond that, Deadheads aren't happy that there wasn't a chance for them to get in ahead of the hypebeasts, or posers, that come guaranteed with such a coveted Nike SB collab.
In another Instagram post from Grateful Dead on Tuesday, which let people know the sweepstakes for its Nike SB Dunk were now open, fans said things like "Duuude can a real fan actually get a pair of these damn," "It’s a shame that no real deadheads will get these," and "Yeah I doubt The Dead would want a bunch of spoiled hypebeasts representing them. Hopefully some good heads end up getting these." Others were upset that random humans are suddenly jumping on the Grateful Dead bandwagon: "Kylie Jenner has a pair... no thanks," all while other 'heads continued to focus on their feelings against the Swoosh: "No thanks, not supporting Nike or China."
"Jerry [Garcia] would be ashamed of this sweatshop produced garbage."
No respect — It's easy to understand the frustration from those who have been Grateful Dead fans before this Nike SB Dunk even existed, but that's the case for almost every music- or artist-inspired collaboration ever, be it a Travis Scott or Virgil Abloh sneaker. Hypebeasts don't care about whether they know any Grateful Dead lyrics — they just want a shoe they know is super limited and that they can, potentially, buy for $110 and resell for upwards of $2,000.
These types of collaborations often take years to bring to life, so it's surprising that Grateful Dead didn't plan a way to reward its most hardcore base with some sort of exclusive access. Now they're going to have to fight it out with sneakerheads and hypebeasts, like everyone else, and hope they get a chance to buy a pair of sneakers that's going to be extremely hard to get.