As a kid, I always wanted a pair of Nike Cortez shoes—one of the original running models launched by the brand in the early 1970s.
I didn’t get a pair until the early 1980s when I was a young cross country runner, but by then I found it to be a bit heavier and not nearly as breathable as my adidas Oregon trainers. Plus, I wasn’t keen on the grass stains that appeared on the white leather upper of the Cortez. In fact, even as a young middle-school running geek, I realized the Cortez looked good with jeans, so it became my everyday shoe and not my primary running shoe. But, honestly, I liked them because of their cool, clean style.
If you’ve seen the movie “Forrest Gump,” then you’ve seen the shoes. It’s the shoe Gump (Tom Hanks) laced up and wore on his across-the-USA running odyssey in that 1994 Oscar-winning film.
Nike is planning to re-launch the Cortez at 10 a.m. on Feb. 28 with a $100 price tag. It coincides with the growing trend of brands re-releasing heritage running models from their past. Brooks, New Balance, Puma, Karhu and Saucouny have also re-released vintage models in recent years. Nike has created modern versions of its Internationalist, Pegasus, Odyssey and Air Max shoes from previous eras.
Originally designed by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman, the Cortez returns after more than a 30-year hiatus. “His vision was simple: create a running shoe that’s as comfortable as it is durable,” the company said in a release. “The result not only allowed his athletes to run longer and faster, but it also changed the sport.”
The Cortez returns with the same premium white leather upper, a foam tongue and “varsity red” Swoosh logo. Just as the original, it has full-length EVA foam midsole enhanced by an additional wedge of blue foam to increase the heel height. The actual heel-toe offset specs aren’t available, but Bowerman (although with famed New Zealand coach Arthur Lydiard) were among the first to create shoes that were slightly higher in the heel than the forefoot. The shoe also features the same herringbone outsole pattern of the original.