Each year, sneakerheads look forward to Nike and Jordan Brand’s collaborations with Union, and this year, the sneaker boutique refuses to disappoint. After dropping a trio of travel-inspired Dunks and a full Air Jordan 2 collection, Union is bringing more heat with its own version of the Nike Cortez.
While the Cortez isn’t as hyped as Union’s past offerings, its silhouette is an important part of Los Angeles’ sneaker culture, connecting the model to the Los Angeles-based sneaker boutique. Launched in 1972, the Cortez also celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, making this collaboration especially memorable. Like Union’s previous partnerships, multiple iterations of the shoe are expected to launch, although only one has received official imagery so far.
It’s 1972 somewhere — Doing away with its traditional leather build, Union’s Cortez sneaker boasts canvas underlays and suede overlays, both of which come dressed in a light beige shade. A woven look decorates the canvas panels as faded blue, red, and tan stripes make the sneaker resemble an old serape. Bright red suede finishes off the vintage design, covering the Swooshes, laces, heel tabs, and tongue tags.
As always, Union branding appears on small yellow tabs by the forefoot. More retro iterations of the boutique’s logo — done up in a lowercase cursive font alongside a miniature version of Nike’s Swoosh — cover the insole, heel tabs, and tongue. Paired with the faded nature of the upper, the branding seems to pay tribute to the Cortez’s age.
The shoe’s vintage look (and Union co-branding) could very well create hype for the sneaker still: Beat-up accents and yellowed details have popularized New Balance’s 550 and Nike’s Y2K Air Trainer thanks to their “effortlessly worn” appearance. People seem to want new kicks that feel old — but not too old, as Balenciaga’s Paris sneaker proves. Union’s Cortez sneaker perfectly toes the line between retro and refreshing.
Coming later this year — Neither Nike nor Union has announced when the Cortez collaboration will release, although pairs are expected to launch later this year in honor of the sneaker’s 50th anniversary. More versions of the Cortez, each presumably as vintage-inspired as the first, are set to drop as well. Keep an eye out on Union’s social media for the retro kicks in anticipation of which pair you’ll be copping.