Travis Scott's new Nike SB collab is a headache for skate shop employees
On Feb. 22, rapper Travis Scott released his collaboration with Nike SB, the Cactus Jack Nike SB Dunk Low. The shoes — a clash of bandana, plaid, and beige across a classic Dunk silhouette — were exclusively sold on the rapper's online webstore, and sold out almost instantly. It's part of a broader trend of celebrities adopting an approach to merchandise that resembles the impassioned collector culture of streetwear.
The marketing for the collaboration positioned Scott, whose last album Astroworld debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, as a California skate rat. In a video for the shoe's release, Scott holds court with members of Nike's skate team while carrying a video camera. Keeping with the theme, the shoe was released to a select set of skate shops around the country. But it would appear that the star power of Travis Scott has proven to be overwhelming for shops used to serving a more manageable set of customers.
Many skate shop employees are taking to social media, posting flyers and memes imploring customers not to call, text, or DM for more information about the shoes.
Labor Skateshop in New York City resorted to holding the shoes at an undisclosed offsite location, to quash fears of a break-in.
“THE SHOES WILL NOT BE IN STORE EVER, AT EITHER LOCATION,” the shop’s official Instagram account posted on Monday afternoon.
“MOST IMPORTANTLY, THE SHOES WILL NOT BE AT EITHER LOCATION, EVER. WE ARE HOLDING A RAFFLE AND SHIPPING THE SHOES FROM AN OFFSITE LOCATION. THIS IS FOR EVERYONE’S SAFETY.”
Meanwhile, Tom Alexander of Crushed Skateshop in Washington, D.C., reports getting over a hundred phone calls inquiring about the shoe over his eight-hour shift this past Sunday.
“People would basically just ask how the shoes were gonna be handled, like if it was first come first serve, a raffle, etc. and I would tell them, sometimes repeatedly, that all the information would be on Instagram the next day,” he said.
“Eventually it got to the point that while I was on the phone with people I would start getting another call coming through so I just started answering and telling people ‘Crushed Skateshop this is Tom, if you’re calling for the Travis Scott [dunks] we’re making an announcement on Instagram tomorrow.’ It started affecting business in the shop, there were a few occasions where I’d have to stop short a conversation with a customer to pick up the phone, and when I was helping people set up boards I had to start just hanging up the phone when it started ringing so I could finish what I was doing.”
High profile sneaker releases have become more or less commonplace in the hip-hop world. Kanye West's Adidas collaboration paved the way for a number of musician-led crossovers. Adidas has partnered with artists like Pharrell and Beyoncé in recent years. And Tyler, the Creator's partnership with Converse is on its third season. Similarly, the Cactus Jack collaboration is actually Scott's third with Nike — his previous Air Jordan 4s and Air Jordan 1 colorways sold out in an instant.
Most skate shops handle a popular release with a raffle to ensure a fair sale. But some took an opportunity to do things a little differently. Homebase Skateshop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, offered customers a chance to secure a guaranteed pair through community service hours; Endless Grind, in Raleigh, North Carolina, offered a bonus raffle ticket to anyone who could kickflip on command, a jab at how unconcerned many eager customers seemed to be with actual skateboarding.
Sneakerhead reactions to the shoe have skewed positive. Users on subreddits such as r/sneakers and r/travisscott are keen on the design as a whole, regardless of its association with the rapper, and praised the rope laces, tearaway design, and bandanna print. Still, most don't seem optimistic about their chances of getting a pair for themselves.
Of course, not everyone is thrilled with the shoe. Kevin Bradley, a professional skateboarder on the Nike SB team, posted a photo of the Cactus Jacks to his Instagram account captioned “Who keep letting Travis Scott do shit? Sending these back @nikeSB” and followed it up with a video of him punting the shoes out his front door.
The Travis Scott dunks are currently selling for over $1,200 on StockX.