Nike Dunk Low Vs. Dunk Low Retro: Battle of Classics

Written By Sunny

By dropping the Dunk Low in 1985, Nike revolutionized the sneakers industry. Among hundreds of shoe models, the Dunks secured its place among shoe enthusiasts.

But the legacy of basketball shoes didn’t stop there.

Nike continues the production by introducing more and more colorways and models to the Dunk lineup. The arrival of the Dunk Low Retro has puzzled people regarding the new additions and made them curious about the divergence from the classic

So, let’s dive into the esoteric realm of Dunk’s sneakers to pinpoint the best one among Dunk Low and Dunk Low Retro.

Overview of Nike Dunk Low and Nike Dunk Low Retro

Nike Dunk Low is an iconic sneaker silhouette widely known for its timeless design. The mystic journey of Dunk shoes dates back to 1985 when Nike introduced it as a classic basketball shoe.

Nike presented the Dunk series as part of their College Colors program, primarily focused on colors similar to the college sports teams’ colors.

However, people adopted these sneakers as a fashion statement, which became the sneaker culture due to their distinct characteristics.

On the other hand, the Dunk Low Retro is a reprint of Dunk Low with a retro look.

Nike initiated the Nike Dunk Low Retro in 1999, instantly becoming a collective item among sneakerheads.

The legacy of Nike Dunk Low continued throughout decades while Nike added more and more versions to this lineup.

For instance, some notable releases of Nike Dunk Low are Nike Dunk Low Panda, Nike Dunk Low University Red, Travis Scott x Nike SB Dunk Low Cactus Jack, and Nike Dunk Low Photon Dust.

While the Dunk Low is more basketball-inspired, the Dunk Low Retro is more Retro-inspired.

Both shoes share similar upper & sole materials, and the design pattern is almost identical.

But what sets these shoes apart?

Well, the primary divergences of these sneakers are in looks, comfort, and flexibility.

Most importantly, both shoes are made for different seasons and temperatures. While the Dunk Low is preferable for spring and summer because of the breathable design, the Dunk Low Retro is more suitable for fall.

It is more efficient to understand the differences with a head-to-head comparison. So, move down to the next section to compare the Dunk Low and Retro’s features and characteristics.

Attribute Comparison of Nike Dunk Low and Nike Dunk Low Retro

Though both shoes are from the exact origin and lineup, there are some significant changes you should be informed of.

Consider the following informative and precise comparison table to determine the divergences of both shoes.

Attribute Nike Dunk LowNike Dunk Low Retro
Design schemeBasketball-inspiredRetro-inspired
Upper MaterialsLeather, suede, and synthetic fabricsLeather, suede, and synthetic fabrics
MidsoleEVA foam and a cup soleEVA foam
ComfortVery comfortableEnhanced comfort
FlexibilityBetter flexibilityModerately stiffer
LacingFlat cotton laceSynthetic flat lace
SeasonSpring and SummerSummer and Fall
AvailabilityRegular releasePeriodic release
Best suitsDesigned for basketball and other light gamesDesigned for lifestyle and casual use

Key Differences Between Nike Dunk Low & Nike Dunk Low Retro

At first sight, the Dunk Low and Dunk Low Retro may look almost identical. But as you know from the above table, some divergences exist.

Now, let’s focus on the primary differences between both sneakers to track down the ultimate one for your daily needs.

1. Upper: Design & Materials

As I mentioned earlier, the design groundwork of Dunk Low and Dunk Low Retro are kindred, distinguished by a low-top silhouette, iconic Nike swoosh, and streamlined profile.

If you closely inspect the overall appearance of both sneakers, you will find Dunk Low in a more sporty appearance and Dunk Low Retro in a more retro vibe.

Both shoes have a leather upper with at least 20% recycled polyester, the same lace closures, and a classic low-top silhouette.

Based on the models, the design changes.

For example, the Dunk Panda and Dunk Black and White (originated from the Dunk Low Retro lineup) feature the cleanest and sleekest designs.

In terms of materials, the original Dunk Low utilizes a combo of leather and synthetic materials that makes it highly durable and provides a clean aesthetic.

Dunk Low Retro, on the contrary, utilizes some modern technologies for the materials to ensure the best performance and enhanced comfort.

Some Retro models also employ premium leather, suede, or textile uppers.

The lace materials of both models are also divergent. While the Dunk Low uses flat cotton lace, the Retro features synthetic flat laces.

Discussion about the upper is incomplete unless we focus on the tongue.

Both pairs have the classic Nike tag on the tongue. The tongues of the Retro models are significantly thicker and more cushioned compared to the original Dunk.

The tongue of the Dunk Low feels a little longer than the Retro, but it doesn’t affect the overall cozy experience of the Retro.

In addition, the Retro model is slightly wider and has a taller shape than the Dunk Low.

The Dunk Low and Retro are suitable for light sports and casual wear, but the Retro outshines the original Dunk Low with its more premium materials and retro

2. Midsole and Outsole

Though there are no visible differences in the soles of both shoes, they utilize different technologies for the midsole.

While both sneakers employ reliable EVA foam for the midsole, Dunk Low features an extra cup sole that is missing on the Retro.

The Retro comes with foam insoles for additional comforts that are absent in the Dunk Low.

Now, let’s go back to the outsole.

Dunk and Retro feature substantial rubber outsoles with classic hoop pivot circles that offer excellent surface grip utilizing a unique tread pattern.

Moreover, the sole design of Dunk Low is super simple, while the Retro has a more complex sole design.

These shoes also differ in heel tab.

For example, the Retro model offers a higher heel tab, and the classic one has a lower heel tab.

For a clear understanding of distinct sole technologies, consider the following table.

ParametersDunk LowDunk Low Retro
Cup soleYesN/A
Sole designSimpleComplex
Extra InsoleN/AYes
Heel tabLowerHigher

As you can see, both models have identical midsole and outsole materials. However, the classic one has an extra cup sole, and the Retro has an extra outsole.

3. Durability and Maintenance

Though the overall durability highly depends on the usage, with proper care and maintenance, both pairs can last two to three years without breakdown.

Due to the synthetic leather upper of Dunk Low and Retro, it has a longer life span compared to genuine leather shoes.

The substantial rubber outsole is also highly enduring, even if you wear them all day, every day, and everywhere.

But as I said, these pairs need proper maintenance for longevity.

Usually, the synthetic upper of both shoes is easy to clean. You can wash it with water and a little soap or shampoo.

The outsole is also easy to maintain, and you can use a brush to clean it.

However, you should avoid wet or muddy terrains while wearing these sneakers, as they can damage the exterior and reduce endurance.

My friend has been using the Nike Dunk Low Retro for over two years, and according to him, the overall lifespan of Nike Retro is around 2-2.5 years.

As a Dunk Low user, I know it is more durable because I have been using it for two years and six months without damaging the upper materials.

In short, the Dunk Low is more durable and lasts around two to three years, and the Retro is also durable, and you will easily get two years of lifespan from it.durability-and-maintenance-of-nike-dunk-low

4. Ventilation & Comfort

Synthetic leather in both shoes is more breathable than natural leather.

The Nike Dunk Low upper is comparatively more breathable, making it more suitable for spring and summer.

On the contrary, the Retro has a perforation on the toes, making it more breathable during long wear.

Nike sneakers are widely known for all-day comforts. As a result, the Dunk Low and Retro offer excellent comfort.

After trying both shoes in various seasons and conditions, I realized the Nike Dunk Low Retro is more comfortable than the classic one.

Due to an extra insole and thicker & cushioned tongue, the Retro provides a cozy feel.

Overall, both shoes are very comfortable and offer excellent ventilation. But the Retro surpasses the classic Dunk Low with its greater comfort, thanks to its insole and padded tongue.

5. Size and Fitting

Due to the exact origin and lineup, both shoes are almost identical in terms of size and fittings.

The Dunk Low and Retro both are true-to-size.

However, the Retro is comparatively larger due to the wider and taller silhouette.size-and-fitting-of-nike-dunk-low-retro

Compared to regular sneakers, the Nike Dunks often seem a little narrow, and if you have wide feet, it’s safe to go a half size up.

Both shoes are true-to-size, but if possible, put them on to ensure the best fit.

6. Style & Preferences

When choosing between the classic Dunk and the Duk Retro, your styles and preferences are the most important things to consider.

With multiple colorways and unique design patterns, both shoes offer several appealing sneakers suitable for a wide range of people.

If you’re more into classic, understated looks, the unbiased colorways of the Dunk Low are a great choice.

The Duck Low is preferable for daily wear and can match a diverse range of outfits.

On the other hand, if you’re fond of a retro vibe and more vibrant colors, the ultimate pick for you is the Nike Dunk Low Retro.

Choose the Dunk Low for regular wear and classic looks or the Retro for more vibrant colors and a vivid lifestyle.

Pros & Cons of Nike Dunk Low and Nike Dunk Low Retro

Considering both shoes’ unique features, it’s time to finalize your purchasing decision. But before concluding, you must consider the strengths and weaknesses of both sneakers.

Besides, you should also consider your biomechanics, style preference, and performance objectives.

So, let’s look at the following pros and cons of Dunk Low and Dunk Low Retro to pick the best pair for your specialized use scenarios.

Nike Dunk Low

  • »Nike’s iconic design.
  • »Versatile style.
  • »Extremely comfortable.
  • »Vast colorways.
  • »Easier to find.
  • »Include a cup sole.
  • »Confined performance.
  • »Less comfortable.

Nike Dunk Low Retro

  • »Unique colorways.
  • »Enhanced comfort.
  • »Durable build.
  • »Huge collaboration.
  • »Limited editions.
  • »Higher resale value.
  • »Limited availability.
  • »Less flexibility.

Nike Dunk Low Vs. Nike Dunk Low Retro: Which One Should You Pick?

Undoubtedly, both sneakers shine with their unique characteristics and offerings. But there are some aspects where one outshines another.

For instance, in terms of comfort and style, the Nike Dunk Low Retro is one of the best sneakers you can acquire.

Are you looking for more durable and casual sneakers?

If so, Nike Dunk Low is the perfect pair to accompany you without tear and wear for several years.

The retail price of both shoes is almost identical, around $100. Tragically, the resale value of both sneakers is way higher than the actual retail price.

Depending on colorways, collaboration, and sizing, you may need to pay twice or thrice extra for your desired pair.

So, if you want a more durable pair and a classic vibe, pick the Dunk Low. On the other hand, choose the Dunk Low Retro for extended comfort and a retro vibe.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Nike Dunk Low Retro the same as Panda?

The Nike Dunk Low Retro White Black is also known as the Panda Dunk. Since its initial release in 2021, it has often sold out due to its tremendous popularity. The shoe is made of white leather with black accents, giving it a panda-like appearance.

Why is Nike Dunk Low Retro so expensive?

Though the retail price of Retro is comparatively economical, the resale price is skyrocketing due to its vast demand, limited edition releases, quality craftsmanship, and celebrity sanctions.

What is the rarest model of Nike Dunks?

Identifying the rarest Nike Dunk is tricky and mostly depends on availability, production numbers, and other aspects. However, the rarest Dunks are eBay x Nike SB Dunk Low, Nike SB Dunk Low Paris, Nike Dunk Low Freddy Krueger, and Futura x Nike SB Dunk High FLOM.

Are Nike Dunk Retro and Dunk Low Waterproof?

Due to the leather material, both shoe’s uppers are waterproof. Unfortunately, the perforated toe and heel collar area may absorb some moisture.

About The Author
Sunny is all about action and activities. He finds it difficult to contain himself. Be it motorcycling, playing football, or exploring the great outdoors, he loves to keep his legs busy.Sunny quickly realized the importance of footwear to keep himself going healthily. This was when he decided to share all his knowledge and expertise regarding different footwear and their significance.Now, he’s on a mission with this humble platform by his side. With time he plans on doing bigger and better things.Apart from his writing and other hobbies, he loves spending time with his cat Sophie. He loves to cook for his friends and family too.

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