Nike Dunk 'Be True' Interview – Paul Mittleman
Here at SlamxHype we present another of our exclusive interviews that preview the Nike’s ‘Be True’ project, which looks at the Dunk as an iconic shoe in the history of Nike, Basketball, Skateboarding and Sneaker Cultures. This time I had the pleasure to talk to Stussy Creative Director Paul Mittleman. Paul has long been plying his trade whether it be as a DJ, Artist, Designer and has had a truely inspirational influence on Stussy and more specifically the collaborations with Nike which has seen a handful of Dunks designed. Check out the interview and see what this truely genuine legend has to say about the Nike Dunk and its impact. Many more interviews to follow.
Name: Paul Mittleman
Occupation: Stussy Creative Director
Where you’re from: New York City
Where you’re at : Los Angeles
How was the Dunk originally perceived when it was released?
It’s interesting to think of it in terms of sampling because the greatest part of music at least early hip hop music, was the idea of the sample but if you figure the way the dunk became sampled because its even an interesting position that Nike took on that shoe, they designed the shoe but the colors where kind of sampled in a way you could argue because they were used by the college teams so the colors of the shoes were given to the shoes. No one sat there with this board of like… I mean Michigan had to be blue and gold. Arizona had to be black and gold. Syracuse had to be orange and white. Those were kind of positive in the relationship between Nike and college basketball which I think was kind of interesting because I don’t think it ever happened before. It wasn’t like a bunch of designers there with Pantones. I think that’s kind of almost like an interesting error.
How do you think its now perceived?
The dunk spans so many different genders, race, economics, sport, like guys wear them, girls wear them, uptown dudes wear them, skaters wear them, hip hop kids wear them. No other shoe hits every mark. You’ll see some 40 year old dude, well I’m a 40 year old dude, but some 40 year old dude will be at Starbucks and have his pair. Or then you’ll get a chick that’s like 19 with hers, or some Bboy kind of guy running… it’s a lot of people for a style of shoe. I mean the Air Force 1 doesn’t go there, none of the running shoes go there. I don’t think anyone can find a shoe that has such a demographic. If someone can I welcome the challenge to discuss it.
Once a company reaches a certain size, how can it ‘remain true?’
Nike’s had a pretty good run working with authentic companies and keeping the people that work for them in the forefront of culture as well as having a really good infrastructure to keep the background going. And Stussy has a similar mechanism. I don’t want to say its church and state but it’s definitely a difference between creativity and commerce. In this corporate world its good to be somewhat organic and just throw out the cards on the table and have some fun.
Which Dunk is your favorite?
My favorite dunk of all time is still the Michigan one. I’ve never really thought that anything that anyone’s done has been any better than the first (ones). I thought that the Haze one was good, I think Futura’s done a good one. I actually like the Stussy ones just because they were a bit more minimal. There’s a bit of a blur with all of them but you know there’s been a lot. I think what’s interesting is that out of all the dunks they become like a canvas, its almost like a blank t-shirt, you give it to someone and they do their thing to it and I think its kind of interesting that over and over again people make different decisions on these basic panels.