Nike aficionado’s came together at renowned LA pizza shop Delicious Pizza to celebrate 45 years of one of the brand’s iconic shoes, the Nike Cortez.
Los Angeles was the perfect location for “Cortez: Since Day One” due to the long-standing connection between the shoe and the city. Nike’s history here extends over five decades. The first Blue Ribbon Sports retail outlet was opened in Santa Monica in August of 1966 by Jeff Johnson, Nike’s first employee. By the end of 1973, Nike had four of its 10 The Athletic Department stores located in the greater Los Angeles area.
It was these stores that helped launch the Bill Bowerman designed Nike Cortez in 1972.
Being raised in Los Angeles, with immigrant parents, growing up in the lower middle class, and attending public schools, the Nike Cortez is etched into the memories of my youth. The shoe was on the streets and in the school yards, but mostly, it was associated with the LA gang culture. You only saw cholos rocking the black nylon Cortez’s with the white swoosh.
But back then we shopped at the swap meet, where the Cortez was a staple, so I was able to convince moms to cop me a pair a few times. But the older I got the less I could convince her to let me wear Cortez’s because more and more they became affiliated with gangs. And moms being the over protective Salvadoran mom she was, the last thing she wanted was her son getting involved in gangs.
But it’s always been about the aura of the Nike Cortez here in Los Angeles. You were making a statement wearing those shoes. It wasn’t about the innovative midsole cushioning system. Back then, if you wore Cortez’s, you were a G. You were a rebel. You were a cholo. Back then, you had to be careful because you might get your ass beat by real cholos just for rocking Cortez’s.
Now, it’s different. After 45 years, the Nike Cortez has evolved into a global shoe for its style and comfort. But the Nike Cortez will forever be linked to Los Angeles because it was here…since day one.
Check out the images from “Cortez: Since Day One” below.