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The Nike Cortez was once Nike’s masterpiece. This shoe made its first appearance in 1972 and immediately won the heart of the American athletes of the 1972 Olympic games.

Soon, it became a staple in pop culture as it was seen on the feet of various pop culture stars. This shoe was the favorite of many because of the level of comfort, fit, and performance it offers.

In addition, It features a lightweight construction and well-cushioned insoles that make it an excellent running shoe. However, rumors have it that it’s dangerous to wear this shoe. 

Once upon a time, you couldn’t wear the Nike Cortez without attracting dangerous attention to yourself.

It went as far as a matter of life and death for anyone who wore the shoes across the streets of Los Angeles. But, that was in the past and it’s safe now to wear these shoes and absolutely safe to wear in 2023.

Why Was Nike Cortez Considered Dangerous?

Is it Safe To Wear Nike Cortez In 2023

The Nike Cortez shoes gained popularity not only amongst athletes or sports enthusiasts but also amongst Hispanic gangs. At the start of 1990, the MS-13, a notorious American gang, took the Nike Cortez as part of its identity.

This shoe became a full part of the gang, that anyone who wore it was assumed to be a member of the MS-13. It was very popular among members of the gang because of its intimidating appearance and the cheap price.

It was sold for around $25 or $30 then. Soon, other gangs adopted it and it very much became a lifestyle. 

However, this same shoe was also a threat to other people as anyone who wore it without being a member of the gang faced dangers.

Between 2010 to 2017 it was almost impossible to walk safely through the streets of Los Angeles without being a target of gang members. Below are some of the reasons the Nike Cortez was considered dangerous:

You Become A Target Of MS-13 Rival Gang

Since the Nike Cortez was part of the uniform for the MS-13 gang, wearing these shoes made you a target of the gang’s rival, putting your life in danger. Innocent lives were affected as many who walked the street ignorantly were attacked and deeply injured.

A notable example was the near killing of a man in 2007 by gang members because he wore the shoe.

Also, it was recorded that two Hispanic teenagers were victims of a shooting in 2013 for failure to provide answers for wearing the shoe. So, back then, you couldn’t wear the Nike Cortez freely if you weren’t a member of the MS-13 gang.

You Become A Target Of The Police

Wearing the Nike Cortez easily identified a gang member and so anyone who wore the Nike Cortez was assumed to be a member of the MS-13 by the police.

This wasn’t safe as you could be accosted anytime and probably arrested if you wore the Nike Cortez.

Then, the police force was after the popular gang, fighting tooth and nail to remove them from the streets.

The Nike Cortez was one bait used to catch them. So, many innocent people who cluelessly wore the Nike Cortez became a target of the police. 

Your Reputation Was In Line

Wearing the Nike Cortez then could easily make people believe you to be a gang member. People who wore the Nike Cortez attracted the wrong kinds of attention to themselves.

It smeared their reputation as they spent a good time convincing the police and others that they weren’t a member of the MS-13.

So, people who valued their lives and reputation pretty much avoided the Nike Cortez as it was a gang thing. It was even banned in schools.

You Could Easily Get Killed

Walking the streets of Los Angeles in the Nike Cortez between 2010-2017 and returning home alive was considered a miracle. Gang members too were not spared.

Many were bullied, injured, and killed for putting on the shoes whether they belonged to a gang or not. And so, the Nike Cortez which was the favorite of athletes became a threat to others. 

Can You Wear Nike Cortez To School?

In the 1990s, when the Nike Cortez gained popularity with gangs, people began avoiding the shoes to save their lives and reputation.

Schools then took action and banned their pupils and students from putting on their shoes to school.

It was important as teenagers were fast becoming members of gangs and so to curtail its spread into the school environment, the Nike Cortez was banned from school.

Also, it was important to prevent fights amongst gang members within the school environment. However, the Nike Cortez is safe to wear now and also safe to wear in school. 

Nike Brand Alternatives To Nike Cortez You Can Wear

Although it’s absolutely safe to wear Nike Cortez now, I know some of us may be reluctant in wearing them.

That’s fine. I will be reviewing four shoes that can serve as alternatives to the Nike Cortez. What’s more, they’re also a Nike brand and have superb features that make them good running shoes.

Nike ShoesUnique FeaturesReview
1. Nike Track and FieldIt’s constructed with synthetic fabric and leather4.4
2. Nike Waffle TrainerIt has a minimalist design4.5
3. Nike Men’s DaybreakIt’s lightweight4.3
4. Nike Air Zoom PegasusIt features an air zoom unit close to the forefoot4.5

1. Nike Track and Field 

Is it Safe To Wear Nike Cortez In 2022

The Nike Track and field shoe is an excellent innovation from Nike. This shoe is similar to Cortez and provides excellent support for runners. 

The Nike track and field shoe comprise synthetic fabric and leather on the upper. The combination provides an excellent build and support for the forefoot.

This shoe has a supportive midsole that offers comfort for runners, making them suitable for everyday use. In addition, it’s well-cushioned and will give you a relaxed feel as you step your foot into it.

This Nike shoe is an excellent choice if you don’t want the Nike Cortez. The soft tongue will support your midfoot adequately and the lace closure will keep your foot securely in place.

The rubber outsole is durable and the rubber patch at the toe increases resistance to wear. 

2. Nike Waffle Trainer

Is it Safe To Wear Nike Cortez In 2023

The Nike Waffle trainer is a good choice with nice features that will provide proper fitting as well as comfort.

The minimalist design is well adorned, making it the favorite of many. In addition, it has a durable build that’s suitable for daily activities.

The waffle trainer is constructed with premium materials. The durable leather upper can withstand daily training, offering the right support.

It’s good for mild races, daily walks, and other day-to-day activities. In addition, it provides secure support with the laces and adequate comfort all day. The rubber outsole is great for any surface, providing excellent grip on the move.

3. Nike Men’s Daybreak

Is it Safe To Wear Nike Cortez In 2023

The Nike Daybreak is the love of many for its vintage style. Bearing resemblance to the Nike Cortez, it offers a more appealing style. In addition, the shoe offers enough support and comfort. 

Constructed with a premium leather upper, this shoe has a strong build and superior comfort.

It’s surprisingly lightweight and has enough cushioning for all-day comfort. The tongue and heel are soft enough and offer enough support during your race.

The laces are for a secure fit and can be adjusted. Also, the rubber waffle outsole is durable and will offer enough support on any surface. This shoe is a nice choice and a good alternative to Nike Cortez. 

4. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus

Is it Safe To Wear Nike Cortez In 2023

The Nike air zoom pegasus is a popular choice for runners, featuring superior technologies that offer runners the best support they need.  

This air zoom pegasus is designed with quality materials to provide comfort and balance.

The react midsole keeps your weight down and offers a responsive feel. The soft foam provides excellent cushioning. In addition, the air zoom unit close to the forefoot also offers more responsiveness.

The webbing at the upper creates a snug feel for the midfoot. The outsole features generous rubber that will hold up for your training. It will grip the ground perfectly, offering both balance and comfort. 


The Nike Cortez was considered a dangerous shoe, having been adopted as the uniform for gangs in the 1990s and 2000s.

But this shoe is safe to wear now, and you can wear them in years to come. It’s still an excellent running shoe and also stylish.

You can match them with your smart casual and be sure of all-day comfort.

However, if you prefer other Nike classic and running shoes, you can choose from any of the shoes I reviewed. They also offer enough cushioning, comfort, and support. 


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