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?histories: The Story of The Nike Cortez

?histories: The Story of The Nike Cortez
Transcending through decades with its influence and impact, you could say that the Nike Cortez has worn many hats. A sneaker that has been around for more than 50 years, this shoe still continues to be a powerhouse in its own respective way. With its multiple faces through many stages in its lifetime, the Nike Cortez still stands as a prominent figure in the sneaker and pop culture communities alike. As we gear up to launch our size? Exclusive release of the Nike Cortez “Grey” sneaker, let's take a step back through history and dive into the origins of the Cortez we know today.

Extracted from Mexican history, the name "Cortez" comes from Hernán Cortés, a famed Spanish explorer who conquered the Aztecs — a true namesake for a sneaker that has stood the test of time. Nike's Cortez is a classic running shoe that was first introduced into the market back in 1972. It was one of the first shoes to use modern manufacturing techniques — like a fully rubberized waffle sole — and it helped to popularize the minimalist running trend of that era. The silhouette of this model was designed by Nike’s co-founder Bill Bowerman, who had a goal in mind to format a lightweight running shoe with long-distance appeal. First crafted solely for track and field, its debut landed the sneaker in the Summer Olympics of that very same year. Gaining traction as an athleisure staple of the ‘70s, the general public took to the Nike Cortez with great demand post-Olympic debut, further cementing the sneaker into Nike’s early roster of soon-to-be classics. 

Moving along, the Cortez’ narrative continues into the 1980s, this time being adopted into the early hip-hop and street culture wave of Los Angeles. What started as a running shoe for the track, turned into sneaker shout-outs through cassette decks, with legendary rap groups like NWA revamping the brand identity of the Cortez in their songs. A cultural reset if you will, the Nike Cortez took to the streets of LA and intrinsically became a part of the city’s identity, both in music and the b-boy populace. Known as “Dope Man Nikes,” NWA’s 1987 song “Dope Man” further popularized the sneakers — which expanded the Cortez as a prominent figure within the city of Los Angeles and its tight, yet controversial community of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s gangster culture.

Spanning through an array of subcultures, the Nike Cortez continued to plant its roots as a shoe driven by authenticity, representing the masses in various forms. Whether it was Whitney Houston performing at half-time during Super Bowl XXV in 1991, or Sir Elton John sporting his very own Cortez editions at his iconic 1975 Dodgers Stadium tour, the legendary impact of these sneakers have been able to carve out its own place in history. No stranger to collaborations, even acclaimed rapper and artist Kendrick Lamar, has been able to concoct and create four different renditions of the Cortez, some even including a colourway to fit the release of his 2017 album DAMN. A true pop culture icon through and through, the Nike Cortez’ status was also solidified beyond its origins when they appeared in the 1994 film Forrest Gump as a “product placement slam dunk.” This feature exponentially created a new demographic of cult followers, as the movie showcases the coveted sneaker as a powerful force in exceeding your running potential.

Although the Nike Cortez has gone through a vast array of updates within its cultural arena, its OG silhouette has roughly stayed the same over time. Still offering its lightweight running shoe appeal, this sneaker has successfully expanded into the streetwear community while providing its functional features. Known to be crafted with leather, nylon and even suede uppers, the classic low profile impression and snug foot support still stay true with modern releases. The outsole is designed with a herringbone tread pattern, completing its vintage-inspired look and representing its many forms throughout the ages. Surpassing a 50 year milestone is a great feat to conquer, and the Nike Cortez proves that well — all while leaving a lasting impression in the stratosphere of performance wear and street culture. 

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