12 Shoes Like Nike Cortez (Better Alternatives)

In this article, we will share with you similar Nike Cortez look-alikes that are simply better. Most of the sneakers on this list are not only comfortable but are surprisingly affordable.

Top 12 Shoes Similar to Nike Cortez

The Nike Cortez was designed by Bill Bowerman and was released in 1972. It was made for athletes competing in the 1972 Summer Olympics but quickly gained interest from many people.

However, there are rumors that the Nike Cortez shoes are dangerous to wear. So, instead of wearing shoes that can hurt you, here are the top 12 shoes similar to the Nike Cortez:

1. Onitsuka Tiger Corsair

The shoe that looks the most like Nike Cortez is the Onitsuka Tiger Corsair. It was the original Nike Cortez before the marriage between Onitsuka and Blue Ribbon Sports turned sour.

The Corsair was released for the 1968 Mexico Games. It was designed by Bill Bowerman, the legendary Oregon track coach, and running expert, who was the mastermind behind the design.

The Tiger trainers quickly became top sellers, and Blue Ribbon was fortunate to have the exclusive rights to Kihachiro Onitsuka’s groundbreaking running shoes.

Long story short, the partnership between Onitsuka and Blue Ribbon Sports didn’t work out but Bill Bowerman and his partner Phil Knight had developed their own line of sneakers called Nike.

They had been secretly manufacturing their own version of the sneaker called the “Cortez” under the “Nike” brand without their Japanese partners’ knowledge.

The Nike-branded Cortez was nearly identical to the Onitsuka Tiger version, except for the substitution of the slender Tiger stripes with plump ticks.

A court later decreed that both Nike and Onitsuka could sell the Cortez model. Nike retained the shoe’s original name, while Tiger dubbed their version the “Corsair”.

It is still the only sneaker to become a best-selling model for two different shoe companies!

2. Onitsuka Tiger Serrano

Many consider the Serrano shoe by Onitsuka Tiger to be the closest thing you can find to the Nike Cortez. The shoe is inspired by the classic track and field spike shoes of the 1970s.

Reviewers praise the comfort of the Serrano shoe due to its lightweight nylon upper and textured rubber outsole. It curves upwards towards the front, and wraps subtly around the sides of the shoe, mimicking the spikes of a track and field shoe.

Accenting the heel and toe cap are the dual-overlay suede textures and a padded tongue and collar for comfort. Inspired by track shoes for racing, the Serrano is the ideal daily trainer.

3. Puma Turin II

The Puma Turin II is a classic update to the timeless Turin soccer-inspired silhouette. The sleek upper sits atop a Softfoam+ midsole with classic PUMA branding for a sporty everyday look.

While it’s similar to the Nike Cortez, the Puma Turin II features a comfortable EVA midsole for supreme cushioning and a full rubber outsole ensuring a solid ground contact.

On top of that, the SoftFoam+ sock liner provides superior cushioning and optimal comfort for daily activities, including walking around the city. This is your vintage all-rounder for every day.

4. Adidas Japan

Adidas Japan was first introduced in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and is known for being one of Adidas’ very first low-profile training silhouettes. Considered a celebration of sporting events, the retrospective Adidas Japan has been relaunched to the delight of many.

While Adidas Japan has its similarities with the Nike Cortez, two main differences are the pull tab located on the heel of the shoe, and the slimmer frame of the shoe. 

Many sneakerheads consider this shoe cozy, thanks to the super-soft leather shell. Additionally, it is very easy to mix and match because it has a retro style that complements any attire.

5. Adidas Campus 80s

The Adidas Campus 80s was initially released in the 1980s as a basketball sneaker. To date, it remains one of the brand’s most iconic shoes, apart from Adidas Stan Smith and Adidas Superstar.

Adopting a similar look to the Nike Cortez, the Adidas Campus 80s quickly turned into the hottest footwear among youth and rap groups, mostly due to its straightforward yet fashionable style. 

The shoe became so popular that it was used for several collaborations. Overall, the Adidas Campus 80s is just a classic pair of trainers that has lasted the test of time since the 1980s.

6. Adidas Dragon

Yet another Adidas shoe that resembles the Nike Cortez is the Adidas Dragon.

The Adidas Dragon is fitted with the Adidas signature, brand stripes, and trefoil branding, all of which lends the shoe a retro and vintage look.

It also features a mesh upper with leather overlays for a comfortable fit.

While this particular shoe is not as popular as the other Adidas sneakers, some people find it comfortable because of the ortholite footbed and sturdy synthetic toe cap.

If you’re looking for something affordable yet stylish, consider the Adidas Dragon. It has a breathable lining that provides a dry feel and a padded EVA midsole for optimal cushioning.

7. Nike Daybreak

A cool way of describing the Nike Daybreak is that it’s a blast from the past. Originally released in 1979, the shoe features the same rubber waffle outsole which gives you a true vintage style.

Apart from its throwback charm, the Nike Daybreak offers plenty of comfort with its substantial foamed underside. Not only is the shoe supremely comfortable, but it’s also one of the lightest and cheapest vintage runners you can get from the Swoosh brand.

Instead of going for the questionably dangerous Nike Cortez, you should consider the Nike Daybreak due to its similar retro style but superior comfort.

8. Nike Tailwind 79

The Nike Tailwind 79 is for anyone who enjoys durable yet affordable footwear. Not only is the shoe well-cushioned, but the springy Air-Sole makes it suitable for daily use.

Many sneakerheads praise the shoe for offering an authentic nostalgic vibe while staying cool and classy without ever trying so hard. Owning a pair will surely impress your friends.

While the Nike Tailwind 79 adopts a similar look to the Nike Cortez, the former has a wider toe box. This is perfect for those of you who have wide feet instead of narrow ones.

9. Nike Waffle Racer

The new-and-improved Nike Waffle Racer kept its retro look but was upgraded with a memory foam sock liner and a more cushioned midsole, making it perfect for street walking.

Considered one of the most classic sneakers by the Swoosh Brand, the Nike Waffle Racer reigns in the vintage sneaker market even without any fancy technology.

Boasting premium materials, the Nike Waffle Racer is far from looking cheap. In fact, plenty of sneakerheads have vouched that Nike built this shoe with premium nylon and suede materials.

Like most running-inspired sneakers, the Nike Waffle Racer feels airy on the feet. Thanks to plenty of ventilation, the shoe allows air to circulate, making it one of the summer must-haves.

10. Nike Waffle Trainer

The Nike Waffle Trainer is a shoe that is similar to both the Nike Cortez and the Waffle Racer. It’s one of the most retro kicks by the brand, adored for its minimalist style.

While it does not have innovative midsole technologies (like React or Zoom), its retro design is perfect for daily activities and city street walking. It combines both comfort and design very well.

Overall, the Nike Waffle Trainer retains the conservative charm associated with Waffle Racers and combines the well-cushioned bottom of the Nike Air Max shoes.

11. New Balance 237

The New Balance 237 was made for sneakerheads who appreciate a vintage vibe. These sneakers have a design inspired by 1970s running shoes with contemporary touches.

It adopts a similar vibe to the Nike Cortez, but it’s much taller due to the cushioned midsole. The NB 237 is also more comfortable too, thanks to its soft and premium materials.

Thanks to its versatile and stylish silhouette, it keeps your casual attire on point. Plus, the suede and mesh upper with lace-up construction provide a comfortable, snug fit for all-day wear.

12. Saucony Jazz 81

Out of all the shoes that look like Nike Cortez, the Saucony Jazz 81 might be our favorite. It’s a snazzy and well-made pair of leather sneakers that keeps your feet sweat-free.

Compared to the Nike Cortez, the Saucony Jazz 81 is taller due to its more cushioned midsole. Surprisingly, the shoe is quite affordable, considering the quality of materials used.

Thanks to its vintage running-style shoe appearance, you will definitely grab the attention of onlookers. Additionally, the comfort offered by the shoe is perfect if you’re on your feet all day.


And there you have it, 11 shoes like the Nike Cortez. Most of the sneakers on this list are not only comfortable for all-day wear, but they are also surprisingly affordable too.

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