Sole Mates: Deon Point and the Concepts x Nike Dunk SB “When Pigs Fly”
Concepts’ creative director on the backstory and inspiration behind his Nike collaboration.
Not many people can say they walked into a store and turned down the chance to buy a pair of
But aside from passing on those highly-coveted Dunks, there’s not much Point regrets when it comes to sneakers. In fact, for him, it’s all about what can he do, what can he push, and how can he bring you on his journey of jokes, fun, and genius ideation.
Spoiler: he never misses the joke. In this interview for HYPEBEAST’s Sole Mates, he was full of them, and full of stories. From growing up and not really understanding the whole skateboarding craze — noting that skateboarders weren’t the cool kids back in the 1990s — to not getting the Dunk hype back then either during a time of AF1 and AJ1 proliferation, Point’s journey has been about not just getting into sneakers, but changing the way we enjoy them.
We won’t give too much away just yet, but expect the unexpected from Point. His thought process is somewhat reversed: idea first, then research to a) back it up, and b) refine. The Concepts x Nike Dunk SB “When Pigs Fly” is the perfect example of thinking of an iconic sneaker under pressure but keeping it inspired and authentic. How do you do this? Draw from niche realms to show vision, but reference reality, counter-culture, and society to show a grounded and relatable nature. This not-so-simple recipe and more about Deon Point’s relationship with sneakers, and most importantly, the true story behind the “When Pigs Fly” design can be found below.
HYPEBEAST: What got you into sneakers?
Deon Point: I’m old enough to remember everything that came out in its original format. For some of us that didn’t have the money to obtain sneakers at that age, that’s what has helped usher a retro market. Once I finally got money and really got into shoes, that was it: clothes were secondary. Shoes first, outfit last. Things have changed over the years, but for me, that’s when I first started falling in love with it [during the 90s]. Accumulating shoes back then was almost like bragging rights. Having 10, 20, 30 shoes was a big deal back in high school, but now, these kids have masses. It’s not the same.
In the 1990s you didn’t just accumulate any kind of shoe, it was quite specific, right?
Exactly. And we were extremely focused on keeping them clean, we didn’t have all the modern methods. It was basically what was under the kitchen sink, a toothbrush and you did your best. We were crafty back then. But to your point, you’d get shoes that stuck out at school, getting them first was obviously a thing as much as it is now, but there was no internet so getting them and showcasing it was a big deal back then.
What was your “It” shoe in the ‘90s?
I was a little smaller than my classmates, so I was trying to get the kid’s versions of shoes. The Sky Jordan 1 (essentially the Air Jordan 1 but a take-down version), but as I got a little bit more interested, it was specifically athlete based. Jordan was driving the marketplace still, it was a little slow out the gate but by the IV, people were pretty hip. Bo Jackson and those types of shoes too. It was scattered and not so focused on one particular model, but having the athlete focus was huge for sure.
What’s your first memory of SB Dunk?
When I started shopping at Concepts, they were one of the first retailers to carry SB. This was the first series of SBs — New York, Chocolates, Danny Supa — I walked in and I remember they had them in a glass case. I was a “preferred customer” back then, I would just spend all my money there. They told me the price, I think they were $600 a piece, but it was a little bit of a hefty price tag than what I was accustomed to paying and I didn’t understand why so I actually passed on all of them.
I got hip on the second series and bought anything I could get my hands on, and to this day I regret not just pawning up and paying out the money. I didn’t understand what it was at the time, Dunks weren’t really popping — it was the Air Force 1 era, Jordans were still reigning supreme. A Dunk with a fat tongue didn’t make sense to me, especially if I didn’t actually need to skateboard it.
The Dunk is having a huge moment now, what do you think of that? Especially seeing you lived during its pinnacle?
I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a resurgence quite so fast in anything as long as I’ve been a part of this. I didn’t expect it to boom so quickly, but I couldn’t be happier. Kids are investing interest in what’s coming out next but also the retros. For someone like me, it’s kind of unique to see that. Typically when you speak about music, kids usually side on what’s new and current and f*ck anything that’s old. This is different. While they’re chasing what’s coming next, they’re also on the hunt to try and track down something vintage that they hold in high regard.
Are you more excited by collaborative Dunks or sourcing old Dunks?
That’s a great question! I’ve known Travis [Scott] and those guys for quite some time so I can say that he was on it very early. When Dunks’ energy was dissipating a bit, he and his crew were on vintage shoes and stuff like that, so I commend him for that, getting on the stage and doing what he did helped everything else.
As for me… I’m not necessarily a sneakerhead because it’s primarily work-based and I’ve been through it all. I don’t get excited, but there are moments where that excitement is recaptured. I think I’m just happy to see it full-circle.
Throwing it back to the “When Pigs Fly” Dunk you designed, what was that whole process like?
That was tough for us. What we wanted to do was to speak to kids getting shaked down at skate spots. Not being a skater myself, I’ve always had this affinity for backstories and how that came about, because when I was growing up skateboarders were not the cool kids at all. Now, they’re doing runway shows and dictating fashion. I thought that was cool, even back in 2012.
We don’t take it too seriously and we don’t want to.
Seeing videos of kids getting shaked down, mall cops, security always running up on them, I thought ‘How can we make a shoe like this?’ so we pitched a police uniform upper on the Dunk Low, with donut sprinkles underneath. Another one was with a pink suede underlay, which with fairness was calling a cop a pig back then, but it was meant to be jovial and fun and lighthearted, it wasn’t about the tension that there is.
We did that, and SB was like, ‘Are you guys f*cking crazy you can’t do this.’ At the time, SB was pretty much the lone wolf of Nike, they were allowed to do things that nobody else could. Talk about pushing the pace. We had carbon fiber on there, we had State Trooper shirting material, and everything was to tear away and the underlay would be pink. When they caved in on that we had to hit the drawing board, I distinctly remember them coming back to us like, ‘Okay, this is going to happen but you have four days to submit, or else this won’t be in the line for next year.’ This put us in a conundrum, to say the least.
We went to a Nike showroom at this hotel, all the celebrities used to stay there, and they finessed a budget to showcase there. They had these crazy paintings on the wall, and I remember my SB rep Will Campbell — we’re shooting a couple of beers, ideas are back and forth — saying “I don’t think anything’s going to slide through in four days.” He literally said the words “When pigs fly” to an idea I had, like there’s no chance of that happening, and oddly enough it’s the weirdest story of any shoe we ever did, there was a painting of flying pigs in the hotel room. I was sitting there like, this is way too weird, but has anyone ever made a shoe based on a phrase?
So us being Concepts, us making a shoe based on a phrase isn’t enough. I dived into everything that was pigs. I looked at Pink Floyd’s Animals cover, I looked at pigs in cartoons, then there’s legal who would be on our backs if we directly tied it to something.
What I ended up doing — and nobody in the world knows this — I looked at the movie Porky’s. I was like this is way over the top… It was like the American Pie of my generation. I watched the whole movie and I couldn’t think of anything that came out of the movie. But as I was about to turn it off there was a mayor of the city and he has this pink Hudson Hornet — like the car from the movie Cars — low-and-behold this villain drives a pink Hornet and it has a flying emblem like a Rolls-Royce, but it was a flying pig. Dude, it was perfect. I’m going to make a shoe based on this car. I didn’t tell anybody, of course, there’s no direct tie to Porky’s but I don’t want anyone getting pissed or legal to be on me.
We made the pink shoe, the silver Swoosh is piping detail on the car, and just differentiate and break it up a little bit, I added the blue under the Dunk Hi lace eyelets on the top, they fold over, to resemble a pig flying in the sky. One detail I don’t think anybody knows is the tongue tag is blue and yellow, and that was more to break up the color. We were worried pink shoes were going to be considered not skate or tough enough, so I took the license plate of cars in Miami where the film was filmed, they were navy and yellow, so that’s where we added the plate. A lot of people ask me about the colors and I’ve never really told them. It gave me enough of a backstory where I felt comfortable pitching it as a Concepts project, but it got a little wiry when we did clothing to accompany it… Nike called me like, “We cannot do a Porky’s shoe” and I was like, “I promise you, it’s not a Porky’s shoe.” Which in fairness I felt comfortable saying because it’s based on a car in a fictional movie.
That’s the first time saying it. It feels like a weight off my shoulders.
Is that why you chose to spotlight this shoe over any other Concepts shoe you’ve done?
I thought it’d be cool to let people know how difficult it is to come up with a great idea and get through the red tape that is legal. Right now you’ll get shot down 50 times before you get a yes. The other side is the urgency that we had to come up with an idea.
For the Turdunken, we did that three or four years ago.
Concepts always has a really interesting angle of inspiration. How and why do you think against the grain, especially with something like the Dunk?
I appreciate that and that’s awesome, I’m glad you asked. A lot of people don’t take this into account: when I started, the founder [Tarek Hassan], was wearing Gucci and luxury and I was too, I was big into labels in the early 2000s. For us, we always wanted to weave luxury in — with the Lobster, a lot of people took it as a joke as a Boston food, but for us, it was the start of something. You look at UNDFTD, it’s sports-based, Supreme is skate, we wanted our niche.
When we do an eight ball shoe, it’s not really a cocaine movie shoe, it’s based on luxury. Casino in the knit, epi leather on there, it’s a luxury element that we weave into sport. That’s been an underlying theme throughout, I just don’t think we’re as pronounced for people to get it. When we break away from that, we go super silly and really add humor. We don’t take it too seriously and we don’t want to, I read designers and there’s always this whole intricate vibe of why they did a blue shoe, and I’m always just like, ‘This sounds like total bullsh*t.’ For me, let’s go against the grain and have fun and be unapologetic about it. Lobster to me was still funny even though there’s a luxury element to it. Hudson’s are a luxury vintage car, but it’s more fun to me. Even Turdunken, it dates back to when kings used to eat and they stuffed 16 animals into another for a banquet.
What can the sneaker industry learn from Concepts’ inspirations and collaborations, and the way it does it’s collaborations?
We were one of the pioneers, we were one of the first guys to step into the arena but we were also very late on the Internet, held out in the middle of nowhere. It was about finding out who we wanted to be, staying true to that even if we didn’t do a great job of communicating. It makes sense to us and everything we do. We’ve done some off the wall zany stuff, but for us we considered it risk. There’s a lot of stuff we’ve done that separates us from the pack.
I always tell kids you have to find out where you fit in. Find what’s missing and find a way to align that with your views and mission. A lot of kids want to mirror what’s happening in the marketplace, for us if we did that, we wouldn’t have made it.