Nike Dunk High Aluminum: Nike Quality
Price: $110 Retail [Sold Out]
Why Should You Buy?
The Nike Dunk High Aluminum is an absolute fire colorway
Why Stay Away?
Materials and build means they will break down in months
|Weight||444 g / 15.6 oz|
|Construction||Stitched Cup Sole|
|Country of Origin||Indonesia|
The Nike Dunk High Aluminum is definitely being launched at the right time to be a success. While not quite as hyped up as they were in 2020, the Nike Dunk is still selling out with every release, and this not-quite-Carolina blue colorway is still close enough to a classic Nike colorway that it has every chance to be a smash hit.
As we mentioned in our last Dunk review, the Dunk was originally a more affordable alternative to the Jordan 1. Even designed by the same guy. Coming out just a few months after the Jordan 1, the Dunk lacked a few key features but came in colorways that were school specific. They were also affordable enough that entire teams could be decked out in matching pairs.
It wasn’t until later that Nike started expanding their line to colorways and cuts that were exclusive to women. This pair, which was picked up by Mrs. 100wears, is one of those colorways that I think we all wish was available in extended sizing.
Unfortunately, in many areas, our female friends lose out on quality. Are these any different? Let’s find out.
The upper of the Dunk High Aluminum comes in two primary colors – a powder blue, and a white. Obviously, preference for colorway is entirely personal, but to me this is one of the best colorways out there. Straight fire. If it was up to me, I’d have Nike and Jordan release every model in these colors.
This pair uses the classic dunk color blocking. This means that the blue is on the toe guard, eyelets, swoosh, and back panels. White makes up the toe, tongue, and midfoot panel. The only real break from classic design is the laces are white instead of blue.
Inside, it’s classic too. The shoe is lined with a loose weave in the blue color. The Nike logo is on the top of the tongue and under your ankle.
Unfortunately, while I love the colors, that is about the last positive thing I can say about how the upper looks. These shoes are simply built like an Ikea table at a frat house. From glue stains on both shoes, to misaligned stitching, to extra holes punched in the toe box, these are genuinely put together worse than Shaq’s Wal-Mart line.
I could go into more detail, but Google only likes sections of three hundred words or less. To keep it short, there is basically no panel on this shoe’s upper that doesn’t have at least a minor issue.
Mid- and Outsole:
Thankfully, whoever made the bottom of this shoe wasn’t nearly as drunk as the person who made the top. Down here, the molded sole features the classic Nike Dunk design.
This means you have the stitching around the edge, that great cut in under the arch, and the outsole peaking out around the edge to break it all up.
Underneath, you have the great Dunk traction pattern. Built similarly to the Jordan 1, you have square pads in the back and concentric rings up front.
The midsole and outsole on the Dunk High Aluminum isn’t perfect, but well within reason for a shoe in this price point.
Fit & Comfort:
Being a women’s release, the Dunk High Aluminum are not built on the same last as a Men’s Dunk. While Nike says you can just add 1.5 to the size and get a Men’s size, a size 12 Women’s will be narrower than a size 10.5 Men’s. If you’re a wide footer, you’ll probably want to avoid these. Especially as the Dunk is already a narrow shoe.
Assuming you do know your Women’s size in Nike, these are similar to other fits. For reference, Mrs. 100wears takes these in a 12, takes a 12 in the Women’s Nike Infinity React, an 11.5 in Adidas Stan Smiths, and an 11 in Chuck Taylor All Stars.
The Nike Dunk High Aluminum, like every other Dunk, is a shoe that was designed in 1985. This shows in the technology – in that there is none. Under your foot is a cheap insole and rubber. That’s it. You can definitely feel it when walking around in these. These are not a comfortable sneaker.
I should note that these also have much less padding in the upper than any of the Men’s Dunk Highs I’ve owned. More like the thickness of a Jordan 1, but using the Dunk’s cheaper foam. I’m not sure if that’s because Nike phoned it in on this particular colorway, or because Women get less padding, but they are less comfortable because of it.
It’s probably best to wear these when you don’t expect to be on your feet all day.
Materials & Construction:
Like the other sections above, the materials used on the Nike Dunk High Aluminum are bad. At this point, I’m starting to wonder why women bother with Nike retros at all.
I don’t think any of the panels are real leather. It’s possible there might be a bit of leatherboard on some of the blue panels, but if so, it is the cheapest stuff I’ve ever seen. The plastic coating on top is thicker. This type of material is going to crack with both age and wear, and severely limit the lifetime of this shoe.
Inside, the lining that they use is not great, but is at least accurate to the original. Beneath that, as mentioned above, they use a piece of foam that is about half the thickness of what you get in a Men’s pair. My guess is that this gives a slimmer look on foot, so you may view this as a benefit.
Underneath, they have thankfully kept the traditional rubber outsole. This stuff is incredibly long lasting, and should almost certainly outlast the upper of the shoe.
The shoe is constructed using a cup sole method. This means that the upper is glued to an outsole (shaped like a cup), and then sewn along the edge. This sewing helps keep the upper on, and prevents things like the splitting you see on Vans. As far as sneakers go, this is about the longest lasting construction you can find.
Ease of Care:
If there is any saving grace from the materials they use, it’s that the plastic coating is incredibly easy to clean. In fact, you probably only need water and a rag.
More than other sneakers, though, I would strongly suggest using some kind of shoe trees. The plastic on the upper will be more likely to crack and get ugly creasing over time. By keeping shoe trees in, you’ll prevent the creases from setting, and saving some cracks along the way.
Pricing & Value:
Nike priced the Dunk High Aluminum at the standard Dunk High price of $110. This puts it at the same price as Adidas’ entry into this mid-80’s market, the Forum 84 Hi, and $60 less than the stablemate Jordan 1. As you can probably imagine, these sold out immediately and are now reselling for a good bit over MSRP. At time of writing, the smaller sizes were around $170, and the larger ones closer to $200.
If you are interested in picking up a pair, at this price I always recommend eBay. They have their own authentication service, but (at least currently) don’t charge any fees to the buyer or seller. You’ll end up paying less overall. Below $100 for used and $150 for new, though, they both don’t authenticate AND charge fees, so if the prices dip below that I’d look elsewhere. Though, the fakes are probably made better.
From a value angle, I’m really struggling with the Dunk High Aluminum. I want to like it. However, if Nike already has questionable value, this release really is out there. It’s possible that it’s just my pair that looks this bad – the 2021 Air Max 90 Bacon drop was notoriously bad QC but mine was in good shape – but the material choice and cheap interior padding isn’t going to change from pair to pair.
I get that men and women look for different things in sneakers. Personally, I think some of the changes – like the different last – are great. Even the thinner padding has a purpose. But completely cheaping out on the materials and construction is pretty bad, even for Nike. Most of the changes compared to a normal Dunk High are not about making a shoe that fits women’s needs better, they are just a way for Nike to save some money.
This isn’t the first time Nike has done this, and won’t be the last. And, frankly, the colorway on the Dunk High Aluminum absolute fire. If you go into it with open eyes, these could be a great pair.
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