Why I’m pulling out my vintage Nike Cortez sneakers for the summer

Published: June 14, 2024
Author: Fashion Value Chain

The classic trainers from the 1970s are back in style.

I found two pairs of Nike Cortez shoes that had been collecting dust on my shoe rack during a recent spring cleaning. My whole outfit consists mostly of Nike Trainers. My often worn styles, which are now my Wales Bonner X Adidas Originals Sambas and Japans (available in many colors), are stored at the front of my closet and are always ready to be worn. However, it appears that there is a slight return of Nike Cortez.

I purchased a pair of shoes on Depop a few years ago. One pair is in the original colorway of white, blue, and red, which was prominently featured in the movie Forrest Gump and worn by Whitney Houston during her 1991 Super Bowl halftime show. The second pair is brand-new white with black accents. I felt bad about not wearing them sooner because I don’t often buy or retain items that I don’t wear, and they are obviously items that should be worn. I’ve used the white, blue, and red pair for more than eight years. I even used them to turn in a university assignment that involved a memory stick that was fastened to the laces (it’s a long story).

The Nike Cortez, one of the sports giant’s best-selling models, was initially created in the 1960s by Bill Bowerman, a coach and co-founder of Nike. According to Lyst, searches for it have increased by 51% in the last six months. The model had its formal debut at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

Designed with long-distance runners in mind, this shoe’s distinctive construction includes supportive padding for the ball and heel of the foot in addition to surface impact absorption provided by a layer of sponge rubber sandwiched between the leather upper and the gripping, herringbone outsole. Although I don’t run in mine, I can attest to their comfort. Director of marketing at StockX Drew Haines tells Vogue that the Nike Cortez “is a timeless classic,” noting that when it was initially introduced, its “simple design and comfort factor helped set a new benchmark for athletic footwear.”

Beyond Forrest Gump, they have also been featured in contemporary pop culture. In The Bear, Jeremy Allen White played Carmy, and the actor disclosed to British GQ that he personally prefers the Cortez. In an interview, he declared, “Yeah, look, my favorite shoes are the Nike Cortez, specifically white-on-white.”

The Nike Cortez, which gained popularity as a running shoe and became a cult favorite among many fans, was a mainstay in Los Angeles neighborhoods in the 1980s when several Nike stores opened. Now that it’s back in the spotlight, it’s the ideal time for me to pull out my old pairs.

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