This weekend, Los Angeles celebrates the 45th Anniversary of the Cortez. The city has adopted the Cortez shoe and embraced it into their look and culture. The Cortez, like LA street culture, has morphed into a much more democratic meaning. The shoe is now a platform for self-expressions and has transformed from only being an urban lifestyle piece to inspiring people and design throughout fashion.
Nike’s history in Los Angeles extends over 50 years. Jeff Johnson, the brand’s first employee, opened the original BRS retail outlet in Santa Monica in August of 1966. By June 1973, there were 10 “The Athletic Department” stores with 5 of them in California: Berkeley, Culver City, Long Beach, Garden Grove and Rosemead. These stores helped launch the Bill Bowerman designed Nike Cortez in 1972.
The Nike Cortez’ chief innovation is a midsole cushioning system that sandwiches a layer of harder sponge rubber between two layers of soft sponge rubber. Though the Cortez silhouette has evolved over subsequent decades, its innovative sole unit remains an industry standard.
Building off its immediate success, the Cortez became an even bigger star within the community moving from the track, to the streets, on the screen and to the stage.