Produced by: Dan Hwang
Written by: Jesse Carr
Our next segment for the RE-Fresh project looks at what may be Nike’s most iconic running silhouetteâ€”the Cortez. The Cortez, in short, launched the Nike brand. Some sources have the origin of the Cortez reaching back as far as 1968 when an elite track coach named Bill Bowerman decided his athletes needed an edge. For a bit of background for those unfamiliar with the co-founder of Nike, Bowerman has had one of the great coaching legacies in all of collegiate sports. He coached 4 National title teams and 31 Olympic athletes. He’s also credited for bringing the concept of jogging to America after an eye-opening trip to New Zealand in 1962. Four years later, Bowerman published a book called, simply, Jogging, which sold over one million copies and ignited the interest in what is now one of the world’s most popular forms of exercise.
Along with the better-known partner of Nike, Phil Knight, Bowerman created Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964. Four years later in 1966, Bowerman concocted the original Cortez, as it would later be dubbed, built for long distance endurance. So from the inception of the model, Bowerman’s knowledge of what his athletes needed to beat the competition drove his imagination for performance advancements that became revolutionary. Though the Cortez’ final design may not look earth-shattering today in a market flooded with fly-by-night technologies and gimmicks that promise to help the runner, it’s understated construction was loaded with innovations that helped launch one of today’s largest and most globally-recognized companies.