Back in 1970s the legendary running coach Bill Bowerman set out on a mission to give his runners a shoe that was both lightweight and durable. The Nike Cortez was the first track shoe created by Nike, in 1972, and is therefore, thought to be a significant aspect to the success of Nike, Inc. Little did he know that when creating the Nike Cortez, the shoe would later enter the pop culture lexicon through its feature in Forrest Gump.
The complete story of Cortez begins back in the mid ’60 when Nike was known as Blue Ribbon Sports – the company founded by Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman. At the time Knight also distributed for Japanese Sportswear brand Onitsuka Tiger, while Bowerman was the man behind the design.
Originally designed for Ontisuka Tiger, the Cortez was an instant hit, and would become one of the first Nike silhouettes to enter the market as Blue Ribbon Sports transitioned into its’ own company.
The Cortez made it possible for Bowerman and Knight to run Blue Ribbon Sports as a fully fledged sportswear company. Onitsuka Tiger were unaware that that Bowerman had taken back his Cortez design as a BRS shoe until a rep visiting the BRS warehouse came across the shoes. From here on the battle of ownership commenced…
As the Cortez continued to excel in popularity under BRS, Onitsuka Tiger weren’t happy and so eventually, legal action was taken. After countless battles, both companies were granted permission to sell the shoe. Over the years, the Cortez silhouette went through various amendments and updates, changing from an all-leather upper, to a lighter nylon material contruction.
This 2015 edition of the Nike Cortez ’72 SP pays homage to Nike’s heritage – constructed closely to the original design featuring a full White leather upper with Red leather accents featured on the Nike Swoosh. A nylon backed open sponge tongue is added complete with an embroidered tongue label with Nike branding. Further elements are added like the zig-zag details seen throughout and the leather pull-tab on the heel. Upon further inspection of the heel tab reveals the smooth leather inner lining. The size break information is printed on the inner lining on the inside heel, nearby the Metallic Silver coloured footbed. Finally the, the shoe sits atop a bright White midsole with Blue details, on a serated tooth outsole.
The Nike Cortez ’72 SP is available now available at Footpatrol and other select worldwide retailers. Sizes range from UK3 – UK12 (including half sizes) priced at £95.