As the Nike Cortez approaches its 50th anniversary this year, Nike and Sacai are pairing up to create a futuristic new version. The two are known for bringing modified takes on classic Nike silhouettes in the past and even brought outside collaborators in KAWS and Jean-Paul Gaulthier.
New classics — The sneaker plays on Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman’s classic Cortez from 1972, using red, white, and blue as its principal color palette. While the bones of the original Bowerman creation are still present, Sacai’s founder Chitose Abe is giving it a facelift of sorts for its 50th birthday. White leather serves as the upper’s base, while the forefoot and midsoles appear in a cream shade for subtle contrast.
That’s about where the subtleness ends, as Abe infuses Sacai’s distorted methods into the rest of the details. A red Swoosh on either side connects to the heel and gets overlapped by a smaller beige Swoosh. Cream and blue suede overlap the red leather heel for some stacked texture, and heel branding includes connecting Nike and Sacai logos.
While the Cortez is known as a simplistic, all-American, low-to-the-ground track shoe design, Sacai takes the silhouette to a higher place, literally. Even more stacking is found at the soles with some added Zoom Air bubbles, a split midsole, and cushioning. At the collar, Abe adds the illusion of a double upper as the white looks like it’s been laid atop a blue layer.
In 2021, Nike and Sacai created two Frankenstein-like VaporWaffle sneakers with the help of luxury icon Jean-Paul Gaulthier. While that pair was a dip into the streetwear and high-fashion pool, Nike and Sacai’s Blazer Low with KAWS hewed closer to their streetwear roots. Both can essentially be considered wearable pieces of art, but new latest Cortez iteration is a tribute to a classic.
The pair was first revealed during Sacai’s 2022 Men’s Fall and Winter lookbook and @knowing_kicks on Instagram offered a closer look at the upcoming collaboration. An official release date has yet to be confirmed but given the new photos, the shoes can’t be far out.