Arike Ogunbowale and the Nike Dunk for Hypebeast’s Sole Mates

The WNBA All-Star discusses how her brother inspired her to start a sneaker collection and why she loves the versatility of the Dunk.

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Arike Ogunbawale’s shifty crossovers, scoring prowess and tenacious attitude have propelled her to WNBA stardom. At 26 years old, the Dallas Wings guard and Notre Dame alum has won a national title, racked up two WNBA All-Star MVP awards and was the league’s scoring champion in 2020, making her one of the most popular players in the women’s game today. Away from the hardwood, Ogunbowale is known for her distinctive fashion sense as well, with a sneaker lineup that’s the talk of the league.

As her collection grows, the model that she keeps circling back to is the Nike Dunk — owing to its versatility and expansive range of colorways. Whether it be a collaborative iteration or an inline installment, the Dunk has been utilized by the Milwaukee native as a vehicle for her to express her individuality, and that’s why she chose to highlight it in this latest Sole Mates installment.

Ogunbowale caught up with Hypebeast to discuss how her brother inspired her to have her own sneaker collection, sneaker culture in Milwaukee and her favorite Dunk colorways in her stash.

Who or what got you into sneakers?

My older brother Dare was my biggest inspiration when it came to sneakers. Growing up, I would notice him amassing a ton of Nikes and Jordans and it inspired me to start my own collection.

Can you recall some of the first models or brands you were into?

Before I got into Nike, I was a huge fan of Vans, especially the Old Skools. I wasn’t a skater, but I just loved the way they looked. They were affordable and easy to wear, and I made sure to have them in a lot of colors so that I could match them with all of my outfits.

You grew up in Milwaukee. What was sneaker culture like there?

People in Milwaukee absolutely love sneakers. I noticed that Milwaukee went through a variety of different sneaker trends, and one that stands out to me is when everyone was hyped on Air Force 1s. Those were a huge staple within my community. We also really loved Air Maxes, more specifically Air Max 95s and Air Max 97s. You’d definitely catch a lot of people rocking those models, especially if they came in any multi-colored palettes.

You chose to highlight the Nike Dunk for your Sole Mates feature. What role does this model play in your life?

I’ve been collecting a ton of Nike Dunks in the last few years. They go with every type of outfit, and that’s why I love them so much. They’re versatile in the sense that they look amazing with shorts and pants and super comfortable. Over the last few years, I’ve loved that Nike has rolled out so many different colorways, and I love that they’re seeing a huge resurgence.

Do you have any favorite colorways that you own?

I love all of my Off-White™ x Nike Dunks. I own around five to six pairs of those because I love the way Virgil Abloh added extra sets of colorful laces on them to give them a unique look. They’re my favorite Dunks out of my entire stash. I also really love the “Panda” Dunks as well as Travis Scott’s Nike SB Dunk Low collab.

If Arike Ogunbowale could have her own Dunk collaboration, what would it look like?

Great question. Besides Dunks, I love the Off-White™ x Air Jordan 4 “Sail” colorway, so I’d love to craft a Dunk that’s based on that. It would be dope to have them covered in all-cream from top to bottom because I’d think they look so dope with a monochromatic theme.

Every basketball player has their favorite hoop silhouette. What’s yours?

Right now, it’s between the Kobe 5 “Bruce Lee” colorways and the Nike Air Zoom G.T. Cut 2. Style-wise, I prefer clean color palettes on performance shoes. I love all-white versions as well as makeups with subtle pops of color.

Why are sneakers and their stories important to you?

Sneakers are time capsules. When I hold a certain pair, it reminds me of certain memories and time periods of my life. They can also serve as history lessons, like how certain colorways of Kobe Bryant’s shoes remind you of his biggest games.

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