RE-Fresh: Nike Cortez (1985)

By - February 8th, 2012

To begin describing the features, let’s first examine what, specifically, Bowerman demanded from the sneaker—100 miles per week on pavement or asphalt. What resulted from that rigorous demand was a dual-density, full-length midsole built from various foams. Bowerman set the thicker foam at points that required greater shock absorption and a lighter weight foam at less demanding stress points, a balance which helped to trim the weight of the shoe. According to many who knew Bowerman well, his quest to make shoes increasingly lighter was lifelong, and his first model set the bar for material choices to accomplish that goal as well.

A nylon upper dominated many of the early models, along with suede, which helped the toe retain its shape. Along with the lightweight upper materials, Bowerman needed an outsole that could help the shoe to endure his 100 mile per week goal, so he chose a herringbone-patterned rubber for the outsole meant to provide flexibility and stability while taking a pounding. Our model is from 1985, and by this time in Nike’s history, the brand had revolutionized the sneaker market on the turf, the tracks, the hardwood, and where it was beginning to matter most—the streets.