Expectation for running shoe design forever changed when the Nike Cortez hit the track in 1972. At that time, Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman was seeking to develop a shoe that could offer his athletes elevated performance benefits and a competitive advantage. Through trial and error, relentless dedication, and an ingenious concept came a timeless classic, the Nike Cortez running shoe.
To really understand the effect the Cortez had on the sport of running, you must travel back to the 1970s. It was a time of change and innovation. Athletes were beginning to view shoes as more than protective footwear. They were starting to realize the sneakers they wore had a direct effect on their ability to compete. Bowerman's vision and commitment to increasing athletic standards for the sport he loved were what led to the forward-thinking concept behind the design of the Cortez running shoe.
What made the Nike Cortez different from previous running shoes was its creative outsole and lightweight construction. Bowerman thought that a urethane outsole with a waffle-inspired tread pattern would deliver more traction than traditional shoes of the day. To bring this never-before-seen outsole design to life, he took his wife's waffle iron and created a plaster mold. Bowerman then paired this inventive outsole with lightweight upper materials like nylon, leather, and suede. The upper also housed four-way stretch insoles to prevent blisters and an extra-wide toe area to cater to runners with foot problems. Although it seemed a little out of the ordinary to use an everyday kitchen appliance to aid in the development of a new-age sneaker, it proved successful. In fact, it was such a success that to this day Nike continues to utilize the waffle pattern on a variety of running-inspired shoes.
The Cortez has passed the test of time. From its early days as a new-age performance running shoe to its starring role in the 1994 blockbuster sensation Forest Gump, the Cortez has always been a cherished style among sneaker collectors worldwide. Now a classic Nike icon, its streamlined silhouette and ability to take on a variety of upper materials and colors provide a premium canvas ideal for any creative make-up.
Over four decades after its creation, the Cortez' once revolutionary construction continues to deliver the same iconic look and performance features as the original; however it's taken on a new life as staple streetwear style. Now it's a shoe that allows running enthusiasts and sneaker aficionados the world over to think to the past and reminisce about the days when the Cortez was their preferred sneaker.
At Eastbay we have a vast collection of Nike Cortez shoes. From durable leather to lightweight nylon and the latest collector packs, there's a premium style waiting for any true sneaker collector.