Nike’s iconic Cortez is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year, and yet the sneaker style seems as fresh as ever. The brand has given the round-toed shoe a birthday update with perforated white leather and gold detailing, ushering the Cortez Classic Premium QS into 2017. The trainer has a long cultural history, starting with a ‘70s Farrah Fawcett skateboarding through teenage boys’ dreams in denim flares. While made to be a sport shoe – it was unveiled at the 1972 Munich Olympics and worn by Team USA athletes – its slick and simple design has been referenced everywhere from The Karate Kid to Forrest Gump, and worn by Whitney Houston, Eazy-E, and Kendrick Lamar alike.
As part of Nike’s Beautiful X Powerful Collection, who better to wave in the shoe’s renewal than the face du jour, Bella Hadid. The 20-year-old shot the campaign in LA, proving how versatile the shoe is, styling it with silk dresses and bomber jackets, sweatpants and running jackets. Then there’s the homage to Fawcett: Bella in a red wrap-around sports bra and denim kick-flares, riding on a skateboard. “I love skating. When I was younger in Malibu my friends would teach me how to skate and we’d mess around with it, so it was fun being on set and be ok with falling,” she says..
Sitting down with the model after a Q&A she gave to hundreds of fans who had been waiting in anticipation at the Nike store in Paris, it’s easy to forget how young she is and, with 13.5 million Instagram followers, how many eyes are watching her. She’s strong and successful, but does the weight of being a role model feel heavy on her shoulders?
“It’s crazy because even the people that look up to me are older than me, "she says. "I’m still growing, and that’s the hardest part, because if you’re in the spotlight you’re immediately an adult. I’m still learning how to deal with that. It’s hard. The things I’d do is the same shit other 20-year-olds in college would do, but it’s different for me because people are watching. I work as hard as I can, and strive to be the best that I can be, so I can be the best role model for others.”
It must help to have a mother, sister, and friends who know so well how the industry works. “That’s how I unwind," she says. "I’ll come home with all my luggage, and my girlfriends are usually already at my apartment waiting for me, and we sit and watch movies and order in. I just like being as normal as I can possibly be with my girlfriends, who tell me to shut the fuck up because they don’t care. It brings me back down, being with my people.”
She’s sweet, humble and grounded, and actually, talking with her is like talking with a friend. She looks incredible, of course, in a Nike cropped turtleneck and white track pants, making the athleisure lifestyle look appealing to even the most dedicated Dr. Martens wearer. So, how would she style the Cortez? “What’s so dope about these shoes is that they’re so versatile. You can style them with a T-shirt and Levi’s and you look like you’re fresh out of the ‘90s; I wore them with a beautiful little white silk dress; and of course, it completes a cool workout outfit. They elevate everything, it’s such an iconic shoe.”
Hadid’s meteoric rise has been mirrored in the interest garnered by her personal style. Walking for fashion giants like Marc Jacobs, Balmain, Chanel and Alexander Wang must have an influence on one's style. “It’s funny, I just looked at a picture from when I was 15 and my style is so similar. Except I just used to wear vintage clothes, I wouldn’t buy designer stuff, and I wear more heels now. I’ve always worn a lot of leather and sneakers, though.”
With a penchant for streetwear and a good pair of sunglasses, Hadid’s fans are just as obsessive about what she wears on a Sunday as to the Met Gala. But when she’s worked with so many esteemed brands, what drew her to the Nike campaign? “It’s crazy because I’ve always loved Nike, it just always seemed untouchable," she said. "But the shoot in LA was so much fun, and what’s so cool about working with the brand – it’s not about looking perfect and polished. It’s about activity, being yourself and being powerful.”