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If there’s one thing the folks over at Nike love, it’s anniversaries. Whether it’s the Air Force 1, Air Max 1, or any of the Air Jordan retros, and 25, 30, 35, or 50 years, the Swoosh uses every occasion it can to celebrate some of its most iconic sneakers.

Next year alone, we’re looking at the 35th anniversaries of both the Nike Air Max 1 and the Air Jordan 2, with several high-profile collaborations and releases set to follow. But there’s another sneaker that is celebrating a milestone next year; one that has flown somewhat under the radar but is more impressive and central to Nike’s history than either of the other two sneakers. In 2022, the Nike Cortez turns 50.

The Nike Cortez was Nike’s first-ever shoe, designed by Bill Bowerman and taking cues from the Onitsuka Tiger Cortez (later renamed the Corsair in 1974), which was also designed by Bowerman. When Nike changed its name from Blue Ribbon Sports and sought to bring its own sneakers onto the market, it was the Cortez that kick-started its meteoric rise to the top. Today, 50 years later, the sneaker remains popular, which is why it’s surprising that it hasn’t seen a concerted push from the Swoosh in prior years (outside of the popular Kendrick Lamar collaborations).

Next year, however, that looks to change. Union LA are set to release two colorways of the Cortez, both of which have already been leaked online. Due to Los Angeles’ love for the model (the Cortez is often considered the quintessential LA shoe), Union’s involvement seems fitting.

Now, there have been rumblings about a sacai x Nike Cortez collaboration, which would see Chitose Abe’s label bring its double-everything approach to the Cortez, after reworking several other iconic Nike models. Should those rumblings prove true, it would be a fitting way to celebrate the Cortez’s 50th-anniversary. sacai’s Nike collaborations have been some of the most popular over the past few years, as have Union LA’s.

As always, stay tuned for more information.

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