October 15, 2020 update: Nike has sued Warren Lotas for selling a shoe that is “confusingly similar” to the brand’s Dunk sneaker. Read more here.
Read the original story below.
The shoe was dropped with little notice on Sunday (September 27, 2020) with a 15-minute shopping window. On Instagram, Lotus explained, “We will leave the sneakers up for 15 MINUTES WITHOUT A SET QUANTITY. We want this shoe to be accessible to EVERYONE. EVERYONE THAT WANTS A PAIR WILL GET A PAIR.”
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OFFICIAL @STAPLEPIGEON X WL REINTERPRETED OG SHOES ARE GONE – Thank you Jeff and Billy for giving me an opportunity to be a part of your legacy. Love me or hate me, I’m glad we can include so many more people in this moment. An official reinterpretation of a fucking CLASSIC! – PLEASE READ: We will leave the sneakers up for 15 MINUTES WITHOUT A SET QUANTITY. We want this shoe to be accessible to EVERYONE. EVERYONE THAT WANTS A PAIR WILL GET A PAIR. – THIS IS A PRE-ORDER THAT WILL TAKE 3-4 MONTHS TO PRODUCE. PLEASE REMEMBER THIS BEFORE YOU PURCHASE. IT IS A PRE-ORDER. THIS IS A WARREN LOTAS SHOE, IT IS PRODUCED FROM SCRATCH BY ME. PLEASE KNOW THAT. NO ALIBABA BULLSHIT. ITALIAN MATERIALS.
Expressing his thanks to Staple (real name Jeff Ng) for the opportunity, Lotas added, “Thank you Jeff and Billy [Mullen] for giving me an opportunity to be a part of your legacy. Love me or hate me, I’m glad we can include so many more people in this moment. An official reinterpretation of a f*cking CLASSIC!”
Staple has been described on social media as a sell out for working with Lotas, a move view as betraying his enduring partnership with Nike, one that has been instrumental in helping to build his brand’s equity.
In addition to the 2005 riot-causing Dunk SB that created a breakout moment for the brand, Staple has partnered with Nike on multiple shoes including several more Dunk silhouettes, most recently the Panda Pigeon, dropped in late 2019.
At the same time, the concept of a bootleg shoe is problematic for many sneaker lovers who view a shoe design drafted off an original silhouette as a cheap copy as best or at worst, a case of theft.
However, not everyone is opposed to the concept of a bootleg shoe poking at the bear that is Nike in part because parody and tribute shoes have always been a part of sneaker culture. Case in point A Bathing Ape‘s Bapesta, a much love and unabashed copycat version of Nike’s fame Air Force 1.
Brushing off the critiques on Instagram Live (above), Staple wrote, “I love/hate the internet” over a screen capture of dueling comments, one praising the collaboration as “genius level f*ckery” and the other telling Staple he’d lost all respect for him.
Los Angeles-based Lotas is an artist turned designer who launched his label out of his dorm room in 2014 with a series of upcycled denim, leather jackets and flannels pieces detailed with his hand-drawn macabre illustrations and calligraphy. He went on to apply his illustrations to t-shirts and basketball jerseys and then added his designs to Nike Air Force 1 silhouettes.
Lotas made waves when he began to create a series of copycat Dunk sneakers swapping out the Nike Swoosh for a similarly-shaped logo paying homage to Friday the 13th’s Jason Vorhees. Lotas works with a manufacture in Asia to build the shoes to his specifications.
Lotas’ Dunk SB with Staple isn’t his first. He’s created multiple Jason Vorhees Dunk SB shoes to the point where there’s open speculation about whether or not Nike will take legal action.
While some might argue Nike gains credibility from individuals taking inspiration from their shoes, the brand over the years has pushed back on blatant bootlegs involving garments or shoes manufactured independently of the brand.
In the case of the 2006 Menthol 10 shoe, designer Ari Saal Forman received a cease and desist from Nike and was sued by cigarette brand Newport.
In an 2018 interview with Vice, Forman said Nike was “cool about it,” but Newport took a much more aggressive approach and Forman ultimately was forced to agree to a settlement restricting him from even owning a pair of the shoes.
Racking up just over $11,000 in lawyer bills, the agreement also included a clause stating he had to buy back any pairs available to purchase for less than $200 and then destroy them.
Check out Forman’s story below.