Year after year since it first debuted in 2008, the Nike Hyperdunk has been redesigned, reproduced, and rereleased. That's eight iterations so far, and the ninth Hyperdunk—which was finally revealed last week—might just be the most far-out yet.
Throughout all the years that the Hyperdunk has been around, we've seen it become one of the go-to shoes in the Swoosh's basketball footwear lineup; arguably the most popular without an athlete's signature. You might consider it one of the flagship designs of Nike Basketball—always at the forefront of their performance technology, up there with your LeBrons, Kobes, KDs, and Kyries. That's why it's always exciting to see what the latest Hyperdunk looks like—and this year, it's definitely looking a little different.
Designed by Leo Chang (the legendary Nike Basketball Design Director who made all KDs, Kyries, and some of the most iconic LeBrons), the Hyperdunk 2016 looks very distinct from all the rest that came before it. You immediately notice its height, which it owes to the extended collar, designed for a more "locked-in" feel on the court.
The Elite version, which releases first in July, is made with a Flyknit upper, making it look even more like a sock on a sole. The tall collar is paired with Flywire cables that allow the shoe to stretch dynamically for pivots, cuts, and jumps; and the entire shoe rests on a full-length Zoom Air unit for that extra bounce in your step.
Needless to say, this bold new Hyperdunk is, as Hyperdunks always are, at the cutting edge of Nike's design. But it also seems to signify the arrival of a new trend in performance sneaker design (or perhaps in sneaker design in general): the rise of the sock-like sneaker.
Nike Running also recently released the LunarEpic Flyknit—a running shoe that, like the Hyperdunk, looks suspiciously like the lovechild of a tube sock and a Flyknit Trainer. The KD9, which released simultaneously with the Hyperdunk 2016, is also designed with a Flyknit upper and a sock-like collar (although it certainly is much shorter than the latter).
But that's not all! The Nike Sock Darts, which are conveniently named, have also been making a comeback over the past year. Those NikeLab Free Mercurial Superflies you've been thirsting for? Sock-shoes. The adidas NMDs, which recently drew snaking lines at local retailers? Sock-shoes. The Yeezy Boost 350s? They look like they might have been designed by some guy at Burlington.
Knitted or woven upper, clean, minimal lines, and a fitted, lined collar—the sock-shoe trend has been on the rise, and the Hyperdunk 2016 is the most indubitable proof of it yet. It would be reasonable to expect other brands and new models to follow suit, but don't get carried away: Keep your socks and wear them to avoid stinking up your new kicks.
Images via Nike.com, T3.com, and Sneakernews.com