History Check - 45 Years of Nike Cortez | Grailify
History Check - 45 Years of Nike Cortez

History Check - 45 Years of Nike Cortez

When it comes to "all-time favourite" Nike silhouettes, the discussion inevitably revolves around heavyweights like the Air Max, the Air Force 1 or, of course, the Air Jordan or Dunk models. While these models have been in the spotlight for many years - and the Air Max was recently in the spotlight for its 30th anniversary - another classic has managed to stay relevant for even longer: The Nike Cortez turned 45 in 2017 and looks as crisp as ever. Here's our official timeline of the shoe that turned the "Run" into "Run, Forrest, Run!

1966: Onitsuka TG-24 designed by Bill Bowerman

Pic by SneakerFreaker
Before the Cortez saw the light of day, there was an earlier chapter in the mid-1960s. "A tiger hunts best when it's hungry," said Bill Bowerman, the American track coach and co-founder of Nike. And in collaboration with Japanese shoe manufacturer Onitsuka Tiger, he developed a hungry running shoe that could eat up the asphalt with its aerodynamic upper and full-length foam midsole, complemented by a herringbone pattern outsole.

The rest is history: In August 1966, Bowerman ordered 300 pairs of his creation, the "TG-24/Shoe designed by Bill Bowerman w/Mexico Line" for distribution in the United States. Despite the bulky name, it met all the athletes' requirements and became one of the best-selling running shoes of the year.

1967: TG-24 „Mexico“

In those days, before Nike was even founded, Bowerman and his partner Phil Knight ran their business in Oregon under the name Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS). BRS opened in 1964, importing high-performance shoes from Japan to the US and finding a hot market in running culture. In 1967, Bowerman changed the name of the shoe to the more market-friendly title "Mexico".
This change was of course inspired by the upcoming 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico, which provided great motivation for Bowerman and his running team. But even this name only ran a few laps, because a major change was imminent.

1968: TG-24 „Cortez“

When the actual year of the Olympic Games dawned, the BRS team and Onitsuka Tiger wanted a more striking name. The name "Aztec" - in reference to ancient Mexican history and the Aztec empire - was a good solution for a while, but attracted legal attention when a letter arrived from Herzogenaurach on February 13th, 1968: Apparently, using the Aztec name on a running shoe was too similar to the adidas athletics shoe "Azteca Gold" with spikes.
So Bowerman had to go back to the drawing board. In search of a new name, BRS decided on "Cortez" - supposedly after the conquistador Hernán Cortés, who had defeated the Aztecs (take that, adidas!) - and the TG-24 "Cortez" became an instant bestseller.
The Cortez was not only interesting for "serious" athletes, but also for the jogging trend and also looked cool enough to be worn as a lifestyle shoe. The Cortez was the best-selling shoe in the history of BRS and Onitsuka Tiger, but problems were brewing behind the scenes.

1971: Nike Cortez vs. Tiger Cortez

On May 30th, 1971, Bowerman and Knight changed the name of their company to Nike Inc. - inspired by the Greek goddess of victory. They decided to launch their own shoe collection called "Nike Cortez", which led to a years-long dispute with Onitsuka Tiger over who got the rights to the "Cortez" name.
Both companies continued to sell shoes with similar designs under the Cortez name until a court ruled in Nike's favour in 1974. This prompted Onitsuka to re-market the shoe with a revised design as the "Tiger Corsair", which incidentally is still a popular shoe.

1973: Nike Leather Cortez

At the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) show in Chicago, Nike introduces three models: The Marathon, the Obori (later known as the "Boston") and the Cortez. After Nike won over Steve Prefontaine, the first professional athlete, the company also introduces the Swoosh in its shoe models.

Designed by student Carolyn Davidson, the Swoosh adorned the leather version of the Cortez, which cost $22.90 at the time. The shoe looks good and performs well, but it's a bit heavy. Bowerman continues to tinker...

1975: Nike Nylon Cortez

Determined to create the lightest running shoe ever, Bowerman swaps the leather upper for a lightweight nylon construction. The Nike Nylon Cortez is introduced as the "lightest running shoe in the world" and enjoys great popularity in both classic white and blue colours.

 1976: Nike Senorita Cortez

Did we mention that there was a women's version of the Cortez, the Senorita Cortez? This shoe gained great notoriety when it was worn by actress Farah Fawcett in the TV series Charlie's Angels. In the episode "Consenting Adults", the Hollywood star races downhill on a skateboard in the Nike Cortez Seniorita. Right after the episode, sales figures only went uphill - and fast!

1980: Cortez and Sir Elton John

In the early 1980s, the Cortez begins its victory lap in pop culture. Singer Elton John had already been working with Nike since the mid-1970s, and the collaboration resulted in the Cortez/Roadrunner Mix, a love child. In 1980, Elton John makes the relationship official: having already exchanged $16,000 worth of concert tickets for Nike merchandise, he dedicates a song at one of his concerts to his "good friends at Nike". He starts to put his foot on the piano and shows the music world the rocking Cortez.

1987: Show Your Colours

Here we go. The Cortez found many loyal fans among writers and breakdancers in New York City back in the early 1980s. Breaker Crazy Legs of the Rock Steady Crew said, "One of the best shoes to B-Boy because they were so light!"
Next up, the West Coast is about to catapult the shoe into the stratosphere. The rise of LA gangster rap catapults the Cortez into the hip scene under the name "Dopeman's Nikes" from the legendary 1987 NWA song "Dopeman": "To be a dopeman boy, you must qualify. Don't get high off your own supply." The colours here are not only a stylistic choice, but also signal the affiliation to a street gang: the Bloods wear red, the Crips wear blue. One gang member from L.A. describes the look like this: "A white T-shirt, my Ben Davis and my Nike Cortez, and you know the guy is trouble."

1994: Run Forrest, Run!

The film Forrest Gump was often called a "product placement slam dunk". And the Cortez experienced a new height due to the success of the film. From a sneakerhead's point of view, it plays a key role: given to him by his soulmate Jennie, it unleashes Forrest's magical step that leads him to run all over the United States for three years. As Forrest himself said: "The best gift anyone could ever give me!"

1998: Kicking like Seinfeld

The hit series Seinfeld was, at least according to its creator Larry David, a series about nothing. But the Cortez had it all, because they became a permanent part of lead actor George Costanza's uniform. Allegedly, after the series ended, the actor Jason Alexander asked if he could keep a pair of Cortez as a memento.

2005: Mr. Cartoon Cortez

Pic by FlightClub
The street is watching. With its iconic status in hip-hop and LA culture, it was clear that the Cortez would get a special treatment from tattoo artist and Soul Assassins member Mr. Cartoon. To make things official, Nike released three editions of the Cortez in 2005. Highlights included the black colourway with an Aztec symbol in place of the Swoosh, and the white version with an integrated LA logo.

2008: Nike Cortez Brothers Double Pack

Here comes double trouble. The Nike Cortez Brothers Double Pack consisted of a blue nylon Cortez and a silver metallic Cortez Flymotion, which was technically another milestone on the way to becoming the lightest running shoe in the world.
Nike didn't mess around and came up with two toys named in honour of the company's two founders, Phil & Bill. The package launched on February 14th to critical acclaim. As Eric Haze said, "If there's one ultimate criterion for trainers, it's "can you actually wear them with a suit?" That's the beauty of the Cortez."

2010: Year of the Tiger

Tiger style! February 2010 marks the beginning of the Year of the Tiger according to the Chinese horoscope, and Nike celebrates with a special edition Cortez that has been fondly remembered ever since. The white nylon sneaker with the date embroidered on the tongue is a classic for the ages.
Source by Sneakernews

2012: 40th Anniversary Cortez

For the 40th anniversary of its iconic running shoe, Nike is reissuing the Cortez in a variety of colourways. GQ magazine is thrilled: "The Cortez was once the most advanced running shoe on the market; now it's a perfectly nostalgic sneaker for the street. We think the best way to wear a pair is with a suit that can use a kick of colour." And for those who like it classic, the Cortez Leather returns in all its black elegance.

2013: Cortez „Asia City Pack“

The Cortez is deeply rooted in Asia, as it originally came as an imported shoe from Japan. With the Nike Cortez "Asia City Pack", Nike shows a little love to the Eastern Hemisphere. The super bright shoes feature the retro Nike pinwheel logo on the heel tab and the abbreviations of the following cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Taipei.

2014: J.Crew Vintage Collection Cortez

Vintage style. American clothing company J.Crew has taken style to a whole new level with the Vintage Collection Cortez. Sophisticated details include 1970s nylon, aged laces and an exposed, weathered foam tongue. The latter, according to J.Crew, is "an old-school detail you won't find anywhere else." Well done!

2015: UNDFTD x NikeLab Cortez SP „LA“

Another model worth camping out for! The UNDFTD x NikeLab Cortez SP "LA" has a black nylon and suede upper with white and blue Dodger accents. The letters "L" and "A" on the heel tabs let the people from the City of Angels proudly represent their city. The look of the UNDFTD x NikeLab Cortez SP "LA" is rounded off by the UNDFTD logos on the insole. It's all in the detail.

2016: Metallic Gold Cortez

When the Cortez shines, it can only mean one thing: go shopping! In 2016, Nike brought back the Cortez in a shiny gold materialisation for big flair points, but only in small sizes. There was also a silver version with the same bling power. So if the shoe fits, you should definitely wear it.

2017: Cortez Los Angeles Editions

With so much drama in the LBC, it's always important to remember the good times. Like when everyone wore their colours on the Nike Cortez. To properly celebrate the 45th anniversary of the classic, Nike has released the Nike Cortez "Long Beach" and the Nike Cortez "Compton". With Chicano-style lettering on the heels and carefully selected colourways, the drop was accompanied by interviews with LA legends such as tattoo artist Mister Cartoon, designer Janae Roubleau and model Alexis Quintero.
In the words of Mister Cartoon, "LA loved the shoe in the 1980s because of the simplicity and boldness of the design. LA identified with the shoe's nose design and it looked good with raw denim, khakis and corduroy. No other shoe stood for LA like the Cortez."

2017: Nike Cortez „Jewel“

Sublime details! The year 2017 marked a peak in the popularity of Nike's "Jewel" editions with smaller swooshes in shiny materialisations. The Cortez joined the party in June 2017 with the Nike Cortez "Jewel" editions in "Rare Ruby" and "Black Diamond". The Jewel drops feature an all-white upper and are adorned with colourful accents on the Swoosh, midsole, tongue and heel tab.

2017: Celebration of the 45th Anniversary

This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Cortez and Nike continues to launch new models to mark the occasion: "The Cortez is an iconic shoe that harks back to my earliest days in sport. The shoe gave me the confidence and support I needed to reach my full potential as a young, aspiring athlete," recalls Joan Benoit Samuelson, gold medallist in the first Olympic women's marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games. Supermodel Bella Hadid recalls the scene with Farah Fawcett in Charlie's Angels and wears the Senorita Cortez. And the legend continues...

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