– [Narrator] In the sneaker world there are a few shoes that
stand the test of time. The ones that do rise
above the noise and become true classics, from a
quick trend to a staple. In order for a shoe to
have paramount success, it not only needs to be adopted by sneaker enthusiasts but
also the general public. A perfect example of such sneakers is the one and only, the iconic,
the infamous, Nike Cortez. That’s right vato the most
gangster shoe of all time. The Nike Cortez reaches all the way back to the mid 1960s, way
before the shoe became closely associated with
the L.A. gang culture. And way before Nike was
even Nike and the company’s name was still Blue Ribbon
Sports, or simple BRS. BRS operated as a U.S.
distribution company for the Japanese brand Onitsuka Tiger, a brand we know today as Asics. In 1966 legendary Oregon track and field coach Bill Bowerman together
with Onitsuka Tiger, designed the predecessor to the Cortez. The shoe was called TG-24. In 1967 Bill Bowerman
and Phil Knight decided to change the model name
to the Tiger-Mexico. You might be thinking to yourself why the hell would they call a shoe made in Japan for American
consumerists Mexico. Well the change in name was motivated by the upcoming 1968 Olympic games which was being hosted in Mexico. Bill and Phil thought the name to be more market friendly, thankfully there was disagreements between BRS and Onitsuka Tiger regarding the new name. With the Olympic games fast approaching they decided to settle on the name Aztec, inspired by Mexican history
and the Aztec empire. (record scratching) Hold on just a minute though,
they changed the name again? Turns out a German sports company by the name of Adidas had
some beef with the name. It appears that using the Aztec moniker on a running shoe was too close to the Adidas Azteca Gold track shoe. Finally Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight decided to call the shoe the Cortez, inspired by the Spanish
conquistador Hernan Cortes. Who in the 1500s defeated the Aztecs in the march on Tenochtitlan. The shoe was received well by serious athletes and more importantly the shoe was a hit with casual runners, also known as the Jogging Movement. A movement that Bill
Bowerman helped create. It was the number one best selling shoe in the history of BRS and Onitsuka Tiger. But behind the scenes Blue Ribbon Sports and Onitsuka’s partnership
was deteriorating. In 1971 Blue Ribbon Sports officially changed their name to Nike and by 1972 Nike broke off all
ties with Onitsuka Tiger. So who got to keep the
rights to the Cortez? Well it was decided that both companies could use the shoe style but only Nike got to use the name Cortez. Thanks to the shoe’s massive success, Nike was on the forefront of sporting goods for the first time. This gave the company
an immense opportunity to establish themselves
as a legitimate brand. The original model for the shoe was in white leather, it had a red swoosh, and blue line in the mid sole. A few years later Nike
released a woman’s version of the shoe, it was called
the Senorita Cortez. One day a pair of the Senorita Cortez arrived for the Hollywood
actress Farrah Fawcett and she wore them in
episode of Charlie’s Angels. Check out this scene from the episode where she’s skateboarding
with Cortez’s on. (soft suspenseful music) – Okay, get the instructions. – The diamonds. – Same time, okay? – Okay. (soft suspenseful music) (trashcan banging)
(fast-paced disco music) (skateboard wheels humming)
(fast-paced disco music) – [Narrator] This
brought Nike wild success and sales went through the roof. Back in 1976 Nike secured their first pro athlete endorsement with Steve Prefontaine and at one point even had Elton John
rocking a pair of Cortezes. This was massive exposure for the brand and it perpetuated Nike to the forefront of culture and athletic wear. In the 1980s the Nike
Cortezes were becoming a increasingly popular
among west coast gangs like the Bloods, Crips,
MS-13, and many more. The gang MS-13 in particular actually adopted the Nike Cortez
as part of their uniform. Functioning as a sign of allegiance gang members sported the Cortez and khaki pants as the official
outfit for the gang. It is widely known that colors are more than stylist choices when it comes to gangs like Bloods and Crips. Colors are actually used
to signal gang affiliation, for example Bloods wear
red and Crips wear blue, while east coast gangs like the Latin Kings wear black and gold. Fast forward to the
late 80s and early 90s. The rise of gangster rap from the likes of groups like N.W.A.
began to have a huge impact on the popularity of the shoe. In the hood the shoes become known as the Dope Man Nikes, named after
the N.W.A. song Dope Man. The Nike Cortez was released nationwide and it reached millions
but it was the city of Los Angeles that would identify
with the shoe the most. In recent years the Nike Cortez has become less notorious. Still worn by hip hop
artists and celebrities around the world, the Cortez continues to be rocked by fashion savvy people. And the shoe is constantly
being celebrated by L.A. artists like Mister
Cartoon and Kendrick Lamar, both who have their own signature model. This year marks the
shoe’s 46th anniversary. The Cortez is an iconic shoe that will never stop serving
up new color wears, many of which go on to
become collector’s items. At various stages in it’s success, the Nike Cortez has become the official shoe of the Jogging
Movement, the streets of Los Angeles, gangs, and
who knows what’s to come. There’s no doubt that the Nike Cortez is a foundational piece of
footwear’s past and future. I doubt that these shoes
will ever go out of style. What do you guys think? Do you guys like the Nike Cortez? Have you ever owned a pair? Do you still associate
it with gang culture? Please leave a comment below
and don’t forget to subscribe. We’ll see you next time. (chill hip hop music)

Tagged : # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # # #

Dennis Veasley

100 thoughts on “Nike Cortez: The Forgotten History of Nike’s Most INFAMOUS Shoe”

  1. Is it still dangerous to wear a pair of Nike Cortezs in your hood? It’s definitely not as crazy where I’m from lol

  2. When i had Cortez' in the early 90's, the nike and swoosh were stitched on the back in the middle of the suede and you could pull the insole out and find an air bubble underneath that resembled a tiny inflatable mattress. The newer ones have Nike printed on the back tab on top and the insoles are glued in. Wack.

  3. Dope!!!
    Cortez have been foot printed on so many levels…that a Beat producer from united kingdom know as Matt Kuartz release two tapes Lbc Cortez edition
    All blue cassette with a white Nike logo on it with a 24 page magazine.
    And the Lost shipment Cortez Edition
    All white cassette with a green Nike Logo on it.. also a different 24 page magazine with pass Nike art work…collaboration with soles of mischief….sold out in 3 days…
    For those Nike and Hip Hop connoisseur is was a must grab!!!
    @mattkuartz @solesofmischeif

  4. I.still bang and wouldnt want to call attention to myself wearing the back in the day shoe… it's all about blending in now a days

  5. Black airforce one hightops are the most dangerous shoe and if you see someone in them run because he does not care about his life

  6. You got your history wrong. The Chicano Sureno gangs started the kakis & Cortezes. The L.A. Chicano gangs go all the way back to the 1920s. If your aware of this mistake you should correct it.

  7. They are a cool looking shoe even for an older dude like me.. The Gangster thing is unfortunate and disservice to a great shoe. biggest problem is finding them in a large size at least 13 .

  8. Oralé ! 🤜🤛
    When I was in HS, I bought a white new pair almost every month. Had all Black, 'Escape' Cortez in sued Brown, and the fan favorite White n Blk w/ Blk Swoosh. Ahh the memories. Thx for sharing. 👍

  9. A kid at the elementary I went to in LA used to wear all types of flavors even the snake skin Cortez. George Constanza rocked them too.

  10. Lmao y’all dudes fucked up with ms13. They are a salvadorian gang. They imitated Mexican gangs. Everyone imitated the cortez from mexican gangs.

  11. I wore these in 1993 Chicago. It was more of an urban style, rather than gang related. Chuck Taylor’s were the preferred shoe for Chicago gang culture, actually, exclusively.

  12. Todos ustedes vatos orgullosos de sus raíces Aztecas y se ponen tenis inspirados en el que trajo destrucción a nuestra cultura

    Anyway, not like any of that matters, i actually like the shoes and i'm a damn mestizo

  13. Do Nike and Asics use identical patterns and molds to create the Cortez and Corsair today? Could they hypothetically swap molds and still come out the same shoe. Would a Cortez sole fit perfectly on a Corsair upper?

  14. Ms-13 isn’t infamous for Cortez bruh stop making shit up , if your research says so your doing it wrong .
    Lol I’m from nor cal and I used to get ran up on in high school or wearing black Cortez when I would wear a white tee or black tee with them Shit was mad annoying got in a bunch of fights because of them

  15. I wear Cortez's because they are the cheapest option near me, I also wear Dickies and pro club t shirts because they're really cheap durable clothes to buy. I am not cholo I'm just BROKE 🤣

  16. I absolutely wore these shoes, even before they were recognized as being used in gang culture.
    These shoes were amazing, the grip made them very "Useful".

    Kind of shocked at how people view these shoes now. I exclusively wore these, black air forces, and Chucks. Oops.

  17. I really wanted to have one when i was in highschool but we cant afford it. Now im trying to save and working my ass of to get it

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *