Nike Cortez: The Forgotten History of Nike’s Most INFAMOUS Shoe

– [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)


  • 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

  • I dont associate it with L.A gang culture nor the Japanese ………i associate it with the greek word NIKE , victory.

  • Fuck a hood I wear my cortez while skating

  • ASMR anyone?

  • What a dope story. I wanna buy Cortez now.

  • Shoe for fags, by fags

  • Forest Gump Ran Across the Country wearing Cortez ☺

  • Ice cryp mfs NWA

  • Some kids got shit for wearing them

  • Bloods and Crips usually wear Chuck Taylors Cortez’s is more of a “Mexican Gang” style shoe

  • For ma crips

  • Bad Rep For Nike Cortez

  • i got two pairs. one for work the other putting in work!

  • Gangs are selfish for "claiming" the Cortez.

  • I own a pair currently, used it for 7-8 month now, the most comfortable shoe I’ve worn in my life.

  • The cortez are still one of my favourite shoes


  • i have them

  • I have these shoes

  • Got mine cuz of Steve Perry…Journey!

  • Am i the only one here watching this did not own cortez but own Onitsuka Tiger Corsair ?? ( got mine from Osaka trip last december, the Nippon version too. niceeee )

  • I wore those to school one day and 3 Mexicans tried to fight me and I just ran

  • yo where can I find the shoe on 5:33

  • Only shoe I wanna wear before I die..
    Just love it.. Just do it..

  • I swear I buy a pair every year. Dope manz!!!!!!!

  • I just bought a pair and I live in Wisconsin Milwaukee and I highly doubt theirs no cholo or ms13 gang rather then it’s a city of gds

  • Yes

  • Nike AF1 black would like to disagree

  • I own 2 pairs the straight white and now the RAIDERS color cortez i love my cortez

  • Wait…
    Did they really call a shoe for Mexico's market, Cortez inspired by Cortes that killed all the Aztec's ?
    I mean, that's hella disrespectful…

  • Just copped the red “stranger things” model

  • It's all fun and games when wearing them until a real gangsta goes up to you telling you if you wanna bang

  • everybody pronounces adidas wrong. kinda sucks

  • Fuck it is still wear em I paid my own money to buy em

  • Who forgot the Cortez shoe

  • I fucking love nike cortez till dis day

  • The slang word for gangster is nnnnn……….

  • Very good

  • Nike shoes are pieces of manure no matter how much you pay for them.
    They have good advertising but the shoes are just no good.

  • Watched this while wearing my gumps, easily my favorite shoes ever.

  • These kind of Nike are too chunky at the tip.

  • Y'all fools forgot about Black AF1's bro, I see a nigga wearing All Black AF1's I run. Especially when it's the mids bro on god you know I'm running faster than a nigga looting a thrift store bro ???

  • ThAts RiGhT bAtO

  • I've had two pairs in my life, all white and all black. I want to get another pair, but I'm not trying to be confused with a gang member.

  • ?

  • Got me a blue pair.

  • I love my pair. They're great. Simple, but comfortable

  • Ms, */) 13 , $#?;!?

  • That's right Vato! Amazing content bro

  • Cortez are my favorite pair of shoes, I never really got checked but a few separate times some cholos came up to me and looked me up and down, nodded, and walked away, just gotta be aware of your surroundings if you’re wearing them if you’re that scared, I don’t think you’ll really get checked anymore cause more people are wearing them

  • I had prokeds they would last a year but I had a pair that lasted six years +, best sneakers I ever had as a kid

  • Still look good in my cortes. OG baby

  • I cant believe you don't know to pronounce adidas

  • boutta get a pair td foo, my chukcs ripping.

  • These have always been my favorite kicks to rock. Still are… ?

  • Cortez are ugly anyways so idc

  • How about the SURENOS ??

  • Great video. The Cortez have a lot of history and i don't think they'll ever go out of style.

  • Ugly

  • This guy sounds depressed

  • I’m from El Salvador, and you’ll die if you wear these??

  • Watch af1 becomes a gang affiliated shoe…

  • I'm from erie so I can where them

  • Wrong info, MS 13 copied the style from Mexicans, black gangs would wear chucks

  • I was owning a pair when i was 13 and started being into fashion (it was baby blue with a white swish) and now i got the forrest gump one. I got that classic one cause forrest gump is one of my fave movies and some of its quotes keep my heart and mind together and i am in a delicate time and i gotta keep running away from that negative shit cause that is what i can do…

  • cortez look ugly af

  • I remember back in the early 90s kids we’re getting beat up for their Cortez

  • LAXV3 CA 504 callense perros hijosdepta

  • Lol I just got a pair because they are beautiful and go with everything

  • What are some places you can wear them at?

  • Can you wear them in Texas?

  • I fw the Cortez n sur up ese

  • I always thought my last name(Cortez) was a popular name just because of the Nike Cortez

  • 0:07 none of these shoes will ever die.

  • I can’t buy Cortezs because my mom and dad and abuela associate them with cholos and gangsters

  • I got my pair

  • I actually have the Cortez basic leather OGs right now originals

  • Cool shoes! Saw one pic of Freddie Mercury back in the 80's wearing Nike Cortez in a live gig!

  • Damn I’ve been rockin these bitches since my beginning

  • I've owned to many pairs to count I start wearing them in the mid 90s and also bought my son a pair.

  • This is wrong ms13 copied the Nike Cortez trend from Mexican gangs which where and are the og and original gangs of Los Ángeles ms13 is just a copy of a bunch of Central Americans

  • I've owned 5 pairs of Nike Cortez

  • The kid who got shot wearing them thought they were associated with gang culture.

  • Af1s are more gangster imo

  • If I wanted to get the all white ones is that affiliated with any gangs currently and do u think I should still get them

  • Yas I got lots of Cortez

  • Ms 13 didn't start that trend it was cholos from Los Angeles in general

  • I have a pair of Cortez’s

  • “Thats right vato” ???

  • my fav shoe of all time

  • I own a pair. Cortez all Day.

  • Thats how you know you dont know shit crips and bloods dont wear cortez

  • My last name is Cortez

  • Vatos made these cortez how they are not those fucken Salvadorian ms13 foos

  • very informative, great job

  • In my small town of Sunnyside Washington pigs couldn't trace us during come ups on pads because they said "yea well so does 60% of Sunnyside wears Cortezes we can't arrest them".

  • Listen iv been wearing Cortez since I was 13 years old and it's an outrage and God damn insult for me to all of a sudden stop wearing them as my teni shoes.

  • Love you Foo take care hot Cheetos Foo .

  • Forrest Gump called

  • Naw Nike was just like
    back to the ghetto you go
    I got a fresh pair there still not better then the force 1's

Leave a Comment

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