A Pop Culture staple, worn by Stars of the past, present and – we swear – the future.
Since 1972, the Cortez has been one of Nike‘s signature designs, becoming a style statement when, on the stage at the 1991 Super Bowl, the Divine Whitney Huston wore it paired with a red-and-white Jumpsuit, white terrycloth band, while performing the U.S. national anthem.
Around the same years, it appears in Robert Zemeckis‘ feature film “Forrest Gump” starring an Oscar-winning Tom Hanks; the bold Swoosh and herringbone sole have made the shoe popular with all generations, from the 1970s to the present.
Nike has produced more than 700 versions and colorways of the shoe, collaborating with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Bella Hadid, the colossal Netflix series “Stranger Things,” as well as Maison like Comme des Garçons, brands like Supreme, Sacai, Clot…
The history of its name is quite unique.
In Phil Knight’s biographical book, he recounts that in 1967 Onitsuka Tiger sent Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight himself a prototype shoe they were working on, (it should be pointed out that at the time the Nike brand was called The Blue Ribbon and produced shoes for third parties); asking for suggestions on the name.
The Olympic Games were soon to be held in Mexico, so Bowerman proposed the name “The Aztec”: a tribute to the Mesoamerican peoples who anciently inhabited what would later become Mexico.
But there was a Copyright problem: adidas had launched a running shoe called Azteca Gold and was threatening to sue anyone who dared to copy the name.
The two argued for a long time, until Bowerman came up with the insight, “What was the name of that guy who kicked the Aztecs’ ass? He asked Knight, “Hernán Cortés.”
The name Aztec had already been taken, so they decided to name it after the man who conquered the Aztecs and took their capital city-a clear signal to adidas that the fledgling Blue Ribbon would make her “shoes,” in every sense of the word.
Thus, the name Cortez became a symbol of the atrocities of colonization.
The two could not have known it at the time, but the Cortez would be one of the most important shoes in Blue Ribbon‘s history, as well as one of the most important shoes of the 20th century: as timeless as the adidas Stan Smith and Converse Chuck Taylor.
What marked the history of Nike Cortez were also the collaborations mentioned earlier.
Here, the ranking of the Top 3 Nike Cortez Collaborations.
At Paris Fashion Week 2018, Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons disrupted the classic Nike model with an extreme platform and optic, checkered, or striped patterns-a tribute to Camp art, which involves the deliberate, conscious, and sophisticated use of kitsch in art, fashion, and design.
At Paris Fashion Week, COMME des GARÇONS presented its Fall/Winter 2018 Collection.
The most recent collab, is with Clot, featuring a silhouette absolutely celebrating Chinese culture, Native Country of Clot.
The Cortez features an “overshoe” reminiscent of typical traditional Chinese footwear: a kind of essential ballet flats that can be added to-or subtracted from-the sneaker silhouette.
A future-icon model due out in February 2023.
To celebrate the model’s glorious past, the brand has just launched the classic OG model, with all the details and coloring true to the original 1972 version.
Shop the sneaker that every Sneakers collector and enthusiast should have in their collection, NOW available at blackboxstore.com and in Store.