What Are The Best Nike Cortez Colourways Of All Time?

Nike’s first-ever track-running sneaker is one of the brand’s greatest ever creations, but which is the best Nike Cortez colourway of all time?

The Cortez sneaker is arguably Nike’s most iconic design which propelled the brand to its first major success. First launched in 1972, dropping just as the 1972 Summer Olympic Games was at its peak. This sneaker was designed to facilitate long-distance athletics by incorporating maximum comfort into its structure. this article looks in detail at the best Nike Cortez colourways of all time.. 

The Nike Cortez was the brainchild of Bill Bowerman and Phill Knight as the first break away from Blue Ribbon Sports. Determined to develop a lightweight running trainer that would transform the casual running or “jogging” world, the Nike Cortez arrived at the perfect time to help define an era.

Built with a padded collar for improved comfort,  a durable leather upper, and lightweight nylon construction. The Nike Cortez was introduced as “the world’s lightest running shoe,” immediately proving very popular in the classic All-White Design, the Black Colourway, and the White with Black Swoosh.

The release of this sneaker subsequently led to mass popularity for the “Swoosh” as it became one of the most sought-after shoes of all time. Possibly their most famous onscreen appearance was in the classic film Forrest Gump, which promoted the shoe to icon level.

The Cortez, since its inception, has undergone many transformations, including a multitude of colourways but refreshingly sticking pretty firmly to the classic design. But the question remains, which is the best colourway? Decide for yourself from the options below.

Nike Cortez Basic, Forrest Gump (1972)

Nothing beats the original. Iconic styles have timeless appeal ensuring they never quite go out of style, even as we traverse different decades. Featuring the original shades of red, white, and blue. You can treat your feet to one of the world’s most recognisable sneakers by copping these. Check out the picture above!

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Nike Cortez Basic, Black and White (1972)

Another colourway that is modelled off the original. The black and white Cortez variation features a classic monochrome palette, which brings amazing versatility. You can style them with a bunch of fits. They’re more or less likely to go with whatever you’re wearing.

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Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Oregon (2017)

With Ochre and Green hues, this colourway was launched in honour of the sneaker’s 45th anniversary. They are a celebration of the brand’s Oregon roots. What better way to pay homage to a brand’s heritage than to wear the colours of the state’s University football team? 

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Nike Classic Cortez Kenny Moore Marathon Record (2017)

This design is nicknamed the “Marathon Record” edition.  It is a nod towards the historic Fukuoka, Japan marathon on the 7th December 1969. During which Kenny Moore achieved a new record. The tour yellow, marine blue, and sail tones reflect that marathon’s colours.

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Nike Cortez Flyleather Steve Harrington Earth Day (2019)

Collaborating with LA-based artist Steve Harrington, this design champions sustainability by featuring a cartoon depicting the Earth. The yellow contrasts nicely with cool tones used for our planet Earth. If you want to make an eco-friendly statement with your choice of crep, then these are the ones for you. 

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Nike Cortez Kenny 2 Kendrick Lamar Kung Fu Kenny (2018)

Partnering with Kendrick Lamar (aka Kung-Fu Kenny) to commemorate his pioneering album “Damn”, this variation features in bright red to ensure they make a bold statement. Finished off with Chinese calligraphy at the top of the shoe. The originals of Kung Fu martial arts are nicely recognised here.

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Nike Classic Cortez Stranger Things Hawkins High School (2019)

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To celebrate the release of hit series Stranger Things’ third season, Nike teamed up with Netflix to create a spin on the classic Cortez sneaker. Designed to reflect the colours of the school featured on the show. For any Stranger Things fanatics out there, these ones are for you!

Nike Classic Cortez Nylon Varsity Royal Volt (2016)

Brandished with Varsity Royal, Volt and Sail hues, this bright colourway is super cheerful and perfect for wearing during the summertime. They landed featuring mainly nylon fabric. But the design also includes leather and suede to add textural dimension and reinforce some structure to an otherwise very supple shoe.

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Nike Cortez Day of the Dead (2019) 

The black, suede finish gives this variation a more contemporary and sleek feel. The white leather swoosh stands out against a more muted background. The use of two different textures allows for a contemporary twist on the classic silhouette. The contrasting orange tone in the sole adds a splash of colour and lifts the entire sneaker. Not to mention, they pay homage to the Mexican Dia de los Muertos.

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Nike Cortez Nylon Qixi Festival (2018)

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The Qixi Festival in China is their version of Valentine’s Day. Take note of the “Dusk till Dawn” folklore tale that is often included in these festivities, and is represented with this mysterious colourway. A night sky finish and constellation motifs adorn the sides. The dark obsidian hue is nailed across the shoe, adding an artsy depth to this otherwise classic model. 

Final Thoughts

Although Nike has released some truly wacky variations of the Cortez runner, the best colourway has to be the Nike Cotez “Forrest Gump”. Nothing beats this hugely iconic piece of footwear.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Material are Nike Cortez made out of?

The Nike Cortez is a running shoe that was designed by Phil Knight. He wanted to create a shoe that would be comfortable for athletes to wear while they were training. They have a continuous foam midsole with the upper made from a combination of durable leather overlays and suede which makes them durable and long lasting.

Are Nike Cortez running shoes?

Yes, they are! The Nike Cortez was designed by Phil Knight, who also helped introduced the Air Jordan to the world. He wanted to create a shoe that would be comfortable for long runs, and he succeeded. Over the years the Nike Cortez has become one of the best selling running shoes ever made, promoted to icon status by the Tom Hanks classic, Forest Gump. “Run Forest, Run!” 

Are Nike Cortez true to size?

Yes, Nike Cortez fit true to size. However it is important to note the toe box is quite narrow, so if you prefer a bit more room or wear thick socks then we would recommend moving a size up.

Are Nike Cortez comfortable?

Yes, they are very comfortable trainers. In their inception, designer Phil Knight’s core goal was to create an original running shoe with a minimalistic design and lightweight cushioning. The Nike Cortez achieved it’s goal and quickly became known as the most comfortable running shoe of it’s era. 

If you are looking for something with extra cushioning we would recommend trainers with full-length Max Air Cushioning across the entire foot, such as the Air Max 720 or if you are looking at a Nike Air Max shoe with a simpler design, you may want to go with a Nike Air Max 95, Nike Air Max Plus III or the classic Nike Air Huarache

Are Nike Cortez good for working out?

Yes, the Nike Cortez is a great shoe for working out in, it is known as a very comfortable running shoe from the 1970s, made famous by Tom Hanks in the classic Film ‘Forrest Gump’.

Today there are better options more suited for running long distances or specifically for crossfit or HIIT training that we would recomend. Check out our full article on this here.

Do Nike Cortez Run Small?

No they do not, generally the Nike Cortez is known to fit true to size. However you may want to go up a size if you like your trainers a bit roomier as the toe box is quite tight. 

Do Nike Cortez Make You Taller?

The Nike Cortez will add exactly 3cm (1.18 inches) to your height. This is pretty average as Nike shoes go. If you want something that’s really going to elevate your size, we’d recommend Nike Air Max 270, Nike Adapt Automax, Nike 720 or classic Nike Air Force 1 shoes

Are Nike Cortez Unisex?

Yes the Nike Cortez is almost always released in unisex sizing. Typically running in adult sizes from 4 all the way up to 15.