When Pigs Fly: The Unlikely Collaboration Between Nike and SB

I never thought I would see the day when pigs fly, but Nike and SB have managed to defy expectations with their unlikely collaboration. These two iconic brands have come together to create something truly extraordinary, blending the world of high-performance athletic footwear with the raw, rebellious energy of skateboarding culture. It’s a partnership that seems almost too good to be true, but as I delve into the story behind this unexpected union, you’ll soon discover that when pigs fly, anything is possible.

The History of Nike and SB

When Pigs Fly: The Unlikely Collaboration Between Nike and SB

Nike’s Origins

Nike, the iconic sportswear brand known worldwide, was founded in 1964 by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. Originally named Blue Ribbon Sports, the company initially focused on distributing running shoes imported from Japan. Over time, Nike evolved into a leading manufacturer and marketer of athletic footwear, apparel, and equipment.

Establishment of SB

In 2002, Nike launched a subsidiary called Nike SB, which stands for “Nike Skateboarding.” This strategic move aimed to tap into the growing popularity of skateboarding and cater to the specific needs of skateboarders. Nike SB sought to combine the footwear expertise of Nike with the unique demands of the skateboarding community.

The Initial Collaboration

Nike SB quickly realized the importance of collaborating with influential figures within the skateboarding world. Their first collaboration was a partnership with professional skateboarder Lance Mountain in 2005. Mountain’s Air Jordan 1-inspired design, known as the “Lance Mountain Jordan 1,” became a highly sought-after sneaker, setting the stage for future collaborations and establishing Nike SB as a force in the sneaker industry.

The Birth of ‘When Pigs Fly’

Inspiration for the Collaboration

The collaboration between Nike SB and the playful ‘When Pigs Fly’ concept was a result of the company’s desire to push boundaries and challenge conventional sneaker design. The idea behind the collaboration was to create a shoe that defied expectations and embraced the whimsical nature of skateboarding culture.

When Pigs Fly: The Unlikely Collaboration Between Nike and SB

Design Process

The design process for ‘When Pigs Fly’ involved a team of Nike SB designers, led by James Arizumi. The goal was to create a visually striking shoe that captured the essence of the legendary skateboarder Todd Bratrud’s artwork. Bratrud’s distinctive style, characterized by vibrant colors and quirky illustrations, served as the foundation for the shoe’s design.

Release and Reception

In 2011, Nike SB released the highly anticipated ‘When Pigs Fly’ Dunk Low sneaker. The shoe featured a wild combination of pink suede, metallic silver, and a flying pig graphic on the heel. The limited availability and unique design of ‘When Pigs Fly’ created significant hype among sneaker enthusiasts and collectors. The sneaker quickly sold out, solidifying its status as a coveted collector’s item.

Impact on Sneaker Culture

Limited Edition Hype

The release of ‘When Pigs Fly’ introduced a new level of excitement and anticipation within the sneaker community. Limited edition releases like these create a sense of exclusivity and desire among collectors, driving up demand and prices on the secondary market. Nike SB capitalized on this hype, leveraging limited availability to generate buzz and increase brand awareness.

Collectors’ Market

Thanks to its limited production run and unique design, ‘When Pigs Fly’ quickly became a sought-after item in the collectors’ market. The scarcity of these sneakers and their desirability among enthusiasts led to increased reselling prices, creating a thriving secondary market where collectors could buy, trade, and sell rare Nike SB collaborations.

When Pigs Fly: The Unlikely Collaboration Between Nike and SB

Collaborations as a Marketing Strategy

Nike SB’s collaboration with Todd Bratrud for ‘When Pigs Fly’ exemplified the power of collaborations as a marketing strategy. By partnering with influential artists and designers, Nike SB was able to tap into different subcultures and reach a broader audience. Collaborations not only created excitement around Nike SB releases but also established the brand as a pioneer in merging sports and art.

Celebrity Endorsements and Influencer Marketing

The Celebrity Connection

Nike SB recognized the influence that celebrities and athletes hold over consumer behavior and leveraged this to build brand awareness. Through strategic collaborations with professional skateboarders like Paul Rodriguez and Stefan Janoski, Nike SB solidified its position within the skateboarding community. These athletes became the faces of the brand, showcasing the performance and style of Nike SB products.

Social Media Influencers

As social media emerged as a powerful platform, Nike SB adapted its marketing strategies to include influencer collaborations. Social media influencers with large followings, particularly in the skateboarding and streetwear communities, were enlisted to promote Nike SB products. This approach allowed Nike SB to tap into these influencers’ established audiences and generate buzz around their releases.

Effect on Brand Image

The collaborations with celebrities and social media influencers not only increased Nike SB’s visibility but also shaped its brand image. By associating with prominent figures within the skateboarding and streetwear culture, Nike SB positioned itself as a brand that understands and respects the values and aesthetic preferences of its target audience. This association lent credibility and authenticity to Nike SB’s products.

The Evolution of the Collaboration

When Pigs Fly: The Unlikely Collaboration Between Nike and SB

Continued Success with SB

Following the massive success of ‘When Pigs Fly,’ Nike SB continued to collaborate with renowned artists, designers, and brands. Each collaboration brought a fresh perspective and unique design elements to Nike SB sneakers. As a result, Nike SB solidified its reputation for pushing boundaries, attracting attention, and maintaining a loyal following among sneaker enthusiasts.

Expansion into Other Nike Lines

The success of the Nike SB collaboration model paved the way for collaborations in other Nike lines. Recognizing the appeal and market potential, Nike began partnering with artists, musicians, and designers for limited edition releases across various product lines. This expansion allowed Nike to reach new audiences and celebrate creativity across different creative fields, ultimately strengthening the brand’s overall image.

When Pigs Fly 2.0 and Beyond

‘When Pigs Fly’ left an indelible mark on Nike SB’s collaboration history. The popularity of this release inspired Nike SB to revisit the concept, resulting in ‘When Pigs Fly 2.0’ and subsequent iterations. Each release built upon the original concept, offering new colorways, materials, and design innovations. These iterations kept the collaboration fresh and exciting, ensuring continued interest and engagement from enthusiasts.

Challenges and Controversies

Counterfeit Market

The success of limited edition collaborations like ‘When Pigs Fly’ led to an increase in counterfeit versions flooding the market. These counterfeits not only harmed Nike SB’s revenue stream, but they also diluted the exclusivity and desirability associated with authentic releases. Nike SB responded by implementing measures to combat counterfeit production, including improved authentication technology and heightened consumer education.

When Pigs Fly: The Unlikely Collaboration Between Nike and SB

Price Inflation

With the rise in demand for limited edition collaborations, prices for these sneakers skyrocketed on the secondary market. While this phenomenon allowed collectors to profit from their investments, it also made it increasingly difficult for genuine enthusiasts to afford and enjoy these releases. Nike SB attempted to address this issue by exploring alternative pricing strategies and introducing more accessible releases alongside their coveted collaborations.

Design and Cultural Appropriation

Collaborations often involve the blending of different artistic styles and cultural influences. While this can result in exciting designs, it also opens the door to potential controversies surrounding cultural appropriation. Nike SB has faced criticism for designs that some believe have appropriated symbols or styles without proper understanding or respect for their cultural significance. Nike has since taken steps to address these concerns by engaging in meaningful dialogue and fostering cultural understanding through their collaborations.

When Pigs Fly: Turning Point for Nike SB

Revitalizing the Brand

The success of ‘When Pigs Fly’ played a pivotal role in revitalizing Nike SB. The collaboration injected a fresh, daring, and playful energy into the brand, resonating with sneaker collectors and enthusiasts. It allowed Nike SB to break free from the constraints of traditional athletic footwear, positioning the brand as a boundary-pushing, creative force within the industry.

Attracting New Customers

The ‘When Pigs Fly’ collaboration appealed not only to dedicated Nike SB consumers but also to a broader sneaker culture. Its unique design and limited availability caught the attention of sneaker enthusiasts outside of the traditional skateboarding community. This wider appeal brought in new customers, expanding Nike SB’s customer base and solidifying its position as a key player in the sneaker industry.

Leading the Sneaker Industry

The success and influence of the ‘When Pigs Fly’ collaboration cemented Nike SB’s position as an industry leader and trendsetter. Nike SB’s ability to merge sports, art, and culture through collaborations set a new standard for the sneaker industry. It inspired other brands to follow suit, further propelling the trend of collaboration as a marketing strategy within the fashion and footwear industry.

Collaboration as a Trend in the Fashion Industry

Collaborations with Other Brands

The success of Nike SB’s collaborations inspired other brands to explore partnership opportunities. Brands across the fashion industry began collaborating with artists, musicians, and influential figures to create unique and limited-edition products that merged different creative perspectives. These collaborations not only drove excitement and sales but also resulted in cross-pollination and discoveries in fashion and design.

Cross-Industry Collaborations

The trend of collaboration extended beyond fashion brands partnering with other fashion brands. Collaborations between fashion and non-fashion entities, such as sports brands teaming up with luxury fashion houses or technology companies, became increasingly common. These partnerships pushed boundaries and introduced innovative design elements into previously traditional industries, fueling creativity and sparking consumer interest.

The Future of Collaboration

Collaboration has become an integral part of the fashion industry, resulting in a continuous stream of innovative and highly sought-after products. Moving forward, collaborations are likely to remain a driving force in the industry, as brands strive to differentiate themselves and tap into new markets. While collaborations offer exciting opportunities, it is crucial for brands to ensure they approach these partnerships authentically and with respect for the values and aesthetics of both parties involved.

Lessons Learned

Building Relationships for Success

Nike SB’s collaborative approach taught the industry the importance of building strong relationships with artists, designers, and influencers. These relationships fostered creativity, authenticity, and mutual trust, leading to successful collaborations that resonated with both brand loyalists and new consumers. By nurturing these connections, brands can harness the power of collaboration to drive growth and innovation.

Understanding Market Trends

The success of ‘When Pigs Fly’ underscored the significance of understanding and capitalizing on market trends. Nike SB recognized the growing demand for limited edition releases and leveraged it to create hype and drive sales. Brands should continuously monitor the evolving preferences and desires of their target audience to identify new opportunities and remain relevant in a rapidly changing industry.

Embracing Creativity and Risk

Collaboration provides a platform for brands to embrace creativity and take calculated risks. ‘When Pigs Fly’ demonstrated how a bold and unconventional design could capture the imagination of consumers and elevate a brand’s image. By embracing creativity and taking calculated risks, brands can break free from conventional norms and establish a distinct identity that resonates with consumers.


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