In 2007, the
Ahead of the “What The CLOT” Dunk launch, Hypebeast has assembled the ten best “What The” pairs Nike has released over the past 16 years (excluding Jordan Brand’s “What The” releases). To encourage a diverse lineup of silhouettes, each franchise was limited to one entry each, with an exception for the SB Dunk given its strong ties to the theme.
Nike SB Dunk Low “What The Dunk” (2007)
The SB Dunk Low “What The Dunk” is responsible for the “What The” theme’s greatness. Designed by Nike to be the “Dunk to end all Dunks,” its detail-packed presentation is awe-inspiring. The 31 colorways referenced by the pair provide a multitude of nostalgic notes, drawing from the similarly-fabled Staple x Nike SB Dunk Low “Pigeon,” the SB Dunk Low “Raygun,” the HUF x Nike SB Dunk High “Tie-Dye” and more.
Nike LeBron X “What The MVP” (2013)
Being recognized as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player is an honor few players ever receive, let alone receive multiple times. LeBron James is among that few, and 2013 marked his fourth time winning the MVP award in five years. In celebration of the accomplishment, the Swoosh assembled a special rendition of the LeBron X under the “What The” theme. In the weeks leading up to its release, James wore the shoe on-court as part of his second successful run to becoming an NBA champion. The design itself revisits various colorways from that era — tapping looks such as the “Dunkman” and “All-Star” — to create an eye-catching finish with its multicolored makeover.
Nike Kobe 8 “What The Kobe” (2013)
Shortly after the launch of James’ “What the MVP,” Kobe Bryant saw his Kobe 8 “What The Kobe” hit shelves — and promptly leave them due to overwhelming demand. Nearly 30 colorways of the Kobe 8 unite for what can only be described as organized chaos. While an extremely bold look, the pair effectively transitions from one reference to another with little pause, making it difficult to pick out its references to pairs such as the “Year of the Snake” and “Mambacurial.”
Nike KD 7 “What The KD” (2015)
Kevin Durant has been the recipient of many “What The KD” looks over the past decade, with the KD 15 taking on the theme this year. However, the KD 7 stands out in particular with its boundary-pushing design. Translucent detailing is leveraged throughout the sneaker, offering glimpses of the 18 referenced colorways — fusing elements from key pairs such as the “Aunt Pearl” and “Weatherman” KD 7s. The midfoot straps serve as the cherry on top with two different translucent strap shapes implemented to further emphasize the “What The” effect.
Nike SB Dunk High “What The Doernbecher” (2015)
Since 2004, Nike has raised money for the OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital via collections designed with six of its young patients each year. Telling the story of a patient’s journey through their shoes, the resulting works are highly personal and offer inspirational stories. For the program’s eleventh anniversary, eleven special pairs of the SB Dunk High “What The Doernbecher” were produced for a charity auction. The shoe itself features design elements from 13 Nike SB Doernbecher releases — from 2012’s SB Dunk High by Finnigan Mooney to 2007’s SB Dunk Low by Lance Dillion — with Doernbecher scrubs and one-of-a-kind shoe boxes made from recycled skate decks adding to the presentation. Raising over $139,000 USD, the auction was a smashing success, making this pair one of the line’s most-coveted.
Nike Air Max 95 “Greedy” (2015)
Adding to the stacked lineup from 2015, the Air Max 95 “Greedy” may not serve as a traditional “What The” rendition, but it earns a nod for its clean execution. At first glance, a profile view of the kicks may indicate that it’s a pair such as the OG “Neon,” however, the shoe manages to combine various recognizable color hits from other pairs such as 2010’s “Grape” while maintaining a level of wearability that most of the “What The” shoes lack.
Nike Mercurial Superfly IV “What The Mercurial” (2016)
Football (or soccer, if you’d prefer) boots run into natural limitations in design due to their performance-oriented finish. However, the Mercurial Superfly IV “What The Mercurial” makes the most of what’s offered by staggering 16 looks from the Mercurial line on one upper. The resulting pair uniquely places one section of a pair after another, creating distinct segments that nod to the shoe’s various eras, including the original Mercurial Vapor from 1998 and the carbon fiber-constructed Mercurial Vapor SL from 2008. Footy footwear often favors bright finishes, but this pair ensures that each strike will capture the attention of any onlookers.
Thomas Campbell x Nike SB Dunk High “What The” (2017)
Visual artist Thomas Campbell teamed up with the Nike SB team by serving as an art director for the skateboarding team’s The SB Chronicles Vol. 3 in 2015. Two years later, the duo rekindled their relationship with a celebratory “What The” version of the SB Dunk High that revisited his patchwork design created for the skate film. Throughout the pair, a pastel-flavored color palette coats graphics from the film’s poster art, featuring special branding and iconography from Campbell and Nike.
Nike SB Dunk Low “What The Paul” (2021)
Paul Rodriguez brought a new level of visibility to Nike SB when he signed with the Swoosh in 2004. In his two decades since, he has played a key role in establishing the line’s legitimacy with his on-board feats and signature shoe line. By 2021, P-Rod, as he’s often known, was 10 signature shoes deep and the Swoosh prompted him to commemorate his legacy with the SB Dunk Low “What The Paul.” Notes such as the gold and black toe box nod to the P-Rod 1 “Stash” while other throwback hits include an iridescent Swoosh from the P-Rod 2 “PlayStation,” making the pair a must-have colorway for any P-Rod fan with its multitude of recognizable elements from past releases.
Nike Dunk Low “What The CLOT” (2023)
Rounding out the two decades of “What The,” Hong Kong-based label CLOT is stepping up to the plate with its own contribution to the line, serving as what’s rumored to be its final collaboration with the Swoosh. Looking back at its seventeen years of releases with the brand, everything from the Air Max 1 “Kiss of Death” and its transparent toe cap to the Air Force 1 “Silk Royale” series’ signature pattern has been included. Beyond the detail-packed presentation of the kicks, CLOT has designed a series of commemorative trading cards that are being distributed one-by-one with each pair.