Jeff Staple & Staple Pigeon

On February 22nd 2005, the release of Jeff Staple’s Nike SB Dunk “Pigeon” marked the emergence of sneaker culture and hypebeasts onto the national media scene, and appropriately named as the colourway is inspired by the city’s omnipresent bird.

Jeff Staple was born to Chinese immigrant parents who did not approve of his passion for Art. He started his clothing line by silkscreen printing clothes at Parsons in the 90’s. In March 1997, when entering SoHo's Triple Five Soul shop wearing one of his tees, the store manager took note of Jeff’s craft, and commissioned him to supply 12 Tees. This moment proved to be a catalyst for Jeff in fashion. That same year Staple Pigeon was founded and launched, having an immediate impact in New York. In 2002 Jeff founded a creative agency by the name of Reed Space (named after his high school Art teacher) a store where he organized events and art exhibitions, while using it as a space for inspiration.


Nike noted Jeff's work and proposed him to be part of the project celebrating the Dunk’s , the basketball line born in 2002. Nike would have presented the "City Pack", composed of 4 sneakers dedicated to Tokyo, London, Paris and New York. Jeff was commissioned to make the NYC model. 
The best sneaker of the moment, for the best brand of the moment, dedicated to the most trending city in the world: here the story of the Nike Dunk SB Low Staple "NYC Pigeon" starts.

The design created by the Reed Space wanted to combine the world of skateboarding and the soul of New York City in a single item. Jeff and his team decided that nothing like pigeons would best represent the Big Apple vibe, a photograph of everyday life that doesn't connect to the city if you don't actually live there.
The colorway was inspired by the colors of the bird: three different grays, black and white areas (the swoosh), orange sole like the legs and upper in nubuck, to recreate the softness of the feathers.
The shoe was the last released of the super limited series "City Pack": jusr 150 pairs were made, 30 for each of the 5 shops in NYC (Rival, Supreme, §Recon, KCDC and Reed Space). 
However, only in Jeff's shop in Manhattan, the sneakers were numbered which made the model even more exclusive and generated what happened then the following days.


Staple noticed that something big was about to happen when he left work, the night before the drop, when a dozen were already camping at the 151 Orchard Street.

The next day there were 150 people and the police was helping a 140-kilo bouncer to contain the crowd, wilding to buy the Nike Dunk SB at a retail price of $300. 
The NYPD arrested about twenty people, including the Lower East Side thugs, lurking on street corners ready to rob the lucky ones who managed to get the Pigeons, let them out in advance from the back of the store and escorted by police to taxis and vehicles.


However, the moment that cemented the notoriety of the Dunk to mainstream recognition is February 23, 2005, the day after the release. 
The New York Post headlined "Sneaker frenzy" on the front page, recognizing the phenomenon generated by the Pigeons as a force and relevance never attributed to any sneaker. On the seventh page of the tabloid, Rachel Sklar and Leonard Greene reported the first statements of Nico Reyes - Reed store manager - and the fact that sneaker had already reached a value above 1000$ on Ebay, that was still in its early days. The story shook Nike, especially since knives, machetes and baseball bats were found outside the store. Someone thought that everything had been orchestrated from the beginning by Jeff, a thesis that was reported even in the following days always on the New York Post.


From that day the interest in sneakers increased, and so the secondary market was that of counterfeit shoes, before that it was not necessary to obtain that type of items. A cultural phenomenon that involved art and music in an increasingly interdependent way also started from Nike Pigeon by Jeff Staple. I Have Pop, a Dutch artist and designer, in June 2005 produced a series of guerrilla works outside of sneaker shops like Undefeated, Solebox or DQM, while Dave Whiterevisited Nike's Dunks in an expressionist key. Also in the music world, Travis Scott, Frank Ocean and A$AP Rocky have been spotted wearing rare models of the SB line.


The Pigeons returned in the "What the Dunk" of 2007, the mash-up born to celebrate the 5 years of the Dunk SB's, then in 2017 in the black version, which revived the hype generated in Manhattan on February 22, 2005. The Pigeons are back again at the beginning of 2019, in the "Panda" colorway, with white and black upper and green details on the tongue and in the heel. In Italy, Staple Pigeon is commercialized by Nitro Distribution, recently the brand unveiled a new collabo with Coca-Cola.