An Embodiment Of Nike History.


The Cortez is a venerable icon of Nike’s early mythology. It is named after Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés – a tongue-in-cheek reference to the conqueror of the Aztec empire, of which Nike initially wanted to name its new track shoe.

On the topic of conquer, Nike’s success with the Cortez tells a similar tale to their rapid overshadowing of the Corsair by Japanese counterpart Onitsuka Tiger. Bearing much similarity to one another, the Cortez was the result of Bill Bowerman’s design based on a hybrid of two Onitsuka Tiger shoes manufactured by the company. Originally an American sales rep for Tiger before beginning his own distribution company Blue Ribbon Sports (which laid the foundations for Nike), Bowerman began designing what would later be known as the Cortez.

This shoe would be the first of its kind to use foams of two different densities in the midsole to provide both cushioning and durability to the runner. Two layers of foam enabled the heel to be elevated above the forefoot, theoretically reducing strain on the Achilles tendon. Historically, any difference between the Corsair and Cortez aside from branding is splitting hairs. However, being a new provider of all-American made sportswear, and the almost perfect timing of launching the shoe during the 1972 Olympics, propelled Nike into a new stratosphere of success.

nike cortez vintage

By cementing its place in sporting footwear’s history, Nike was able to continually develop the Cortez and retain its original DNA of cushioning performance.In the 45 years since the release of the Cortez, almost countless variants have been released. The Cortez Deluxe memorably featured embellished swoosh embroidery or a “Jewel” swoosh whilst replacing the familiar herringbone sole with an exaggerated ripple version. Another update was the Cortez Free Flywire, brought into the future of 2008 by introducing concurrent Flywire and Free technology to the upper and sole. Most recently are the lightweight Ultra and Moire versions on shelves now.

nike cortez vintage

Not too many sneakers can claim to have their own Wikipedia page. Idiosyncratic to the West Coast: a staple in black/white and vice versa; the Cortez is the urban uniform of downtown L.A. Best paired with beige slacks and plaid shirts, there is no better sneaker for walking the walk – but best to avoid excessive heel strike. Adding to the Cortez’s popularity off the track is its penchant for the silver screen. Most will recall their extended cameo in watershed film Forrest Gump on the eponymous character’s feet during a long run across America. Many also recognise a classic navy and white nylon edition being the sneaker of choice for the bumbling George Costanza from adored sitcom Seinfeld.

Shop the Nike Cortez 'XLV' Collection at Hype DC

Too valuable to ever be taken off Nike’s product line, the Cortez in original flavours is reappearing at Hype DC. For the 45th birthday of the Cortez, the “Forrest Gumps” return in white leather, red Swoosh and blue midsole wedge. In addition, an retro of the staple black/white nylon edition pays homage to the streets of Compton, with a tough CPT embroidery spell out on the heel. Both come in a special variant drawer-style box complete with the shoes packaged in historical printed paper depicting significant design attributes.

nike cortez vintage


The celebratory Cortez 'XLV' Collection will be available from May 30th.


nike cortez

SHOP NIKE CORTEZ ONLINE