In 2006, multidisciplinary creative collective 12ozProphet teamed up with Nike iD—at the time, Nike’s relatively new online customization program—to create a groundbreaking pack of ultra-rare Dunk Lows. Inspired by images of vintage “Wet Look” spray paint cans from 12ozProphet’s Also Known As v.1 graffiti book, the brightly-hued Dunks brought serious sneakerhead-cred to the Nike iD program and were immediately coveted by collectors. We spoke with Allen Benedikt, 12ozProphet’s founder and senior creative director, for an inside look at the creation of the iconic Nike iD x AKA Wet Look Pack Dunks.
Inside the Nike iD Wet Look Dunk
For someone who is unfamiliar with 12ozProphet, how would you describe the kind of work that you do?
12ozProphet began as a school project when I was attending the Rhode Island School of Design. It was conceptualized as a graffiti fanzine, and it was rooted in graffiti subculture, but there were always subtle nods to art, design, fashion and popular culture at large. As the internet came into its own in the mid-1990’s, 12ozProphet evolved to become a massive online community in an age long before social media. In more recent years it’s become more of an apparel brand, but the creative exploration and interaction with community still exists at the heart of it.
What I’ve done (and am doing) with 12ozProphet helps inform other businesses we’re working on currently, which includes a world-class screen print production facility under the name of 12ozCollective, as well as a luxury outdoor brand we’re in the middle of launching called SWAE.
How did the Wet Look Dunk Pack come about with Nike?
After the success of the Also Known As Air Force 1s, I was invited to do a second sneaker collaboration with Nike. They were looking to bring the Dunk silhouette to the forefront, and part of the story they were driving at was centered on patent leather. I’d just released the first volume of the Also Known As v.1 book, and one of the highlights was this beautiful two-page spread of 1970s-era Wet Look spray paint cans that I felt was the perfect inspiration for a patent leather shoe.
What was the significance of working with Nike iD on the project at this point in time?
The project was a significant milestone in the Nike iD program. The concept of build-to-order was still completely new. Blogs were just starting to come into their own, and the hype generated from those platforms only worked if a sneaker hit their radar. The idea was for it to be rare, but not so unique that it couldn’t be built into a story and celebrated. The Wet Look Dunks helped evolve some of the public perception around Nike iD—it offered something cool for the blogs to grab onto. The season that our colors were offered on Nike iD went on to hold a sales record for something like the next three years, which is pretty amazing.
Who were the other key contributors to this project?
On Nike’s side, it began with Gavin Thomas. This came on the heels of the AKA Air Force 1, which was made through Nike’s Innovation Kitchen—so Tinker Hatfield and Tom Luedecke also helped push things through. No doubt there were many others, especially from Nike iD, and we received some incredible praise from Mark Parker. There were also a lot of people on our side that helped make it happen, including Julio Jimenez and Cody Hudson. The spray paint cans were lent by a graffiti writer named Zeus, and I’d like to think we channeled some of the energy from graffiti legends like Futura, Todd James, KAWS, and so many more that we featured in the book that led to the Wet Look Dunks.
On your website, there are photos from the private release party. Could you tell us more about the event?
The Wet Look Dunks were an extremely limited release. In fact, until now, the only public release was a set we auctioned for a charity fundraiser. That set sold for $14,900, with all the proceeds donated to Free Arts NYC, a non-profit dedicated to helping kids through art. To celebrate the success of the project, we held a private event at Nike’s space on Elizabeth Street in downtown NYC. We got to invite all the key contributors to the Also Known As book that inspired the Wet Look Dunks, and each guest got to work with Nike’s staff to design a Dunk that pulled from the Wet Look color palette. Among those in attendance were some of the biggest names in graffiti, art and culture today, including KAWS, Futura, Stash, Earsnot (Kunle Martins), Eric Elms, Jeff Staple, Skuf, Cope 2 and more.
Of all the Nike Models, why is Nike Dunk so special?
The Nike Dunk has persisted as a true classic. Though its origins are in sport, it has grown to represent so much more. It helped to define an era and will always be remembered as the style that kicked off sneaker culture. I’m forever grateful to Nike and the awesome people I got to work with over there, and I appreciate being a small part of the Dunk story.