We spent 5.7 hours reading reviews from experts and users. In summary, this is what sneaker fanatics think:

7 reasons to buy

  • The Nike Cortez Basic SE’s price is budget-friendly.
  • Most testers find the shoe's design to be classic and stylish like other Nike Cortez kicks.
  • According to many commenters, the sneaker is pleasingly lightweight.
  • Plenty of buyers have lauded the Nike Cortez Basic SE for being comfortable.
  • It’s a durable shoe and does not wear out easily, many reviewers have observed.
  • Some reviewers have commented that the sneaker is well-padded.
  • A few users remark that the Nike Cortez Basic SE breaks in easily.

3 reasons not to buy

  • According to some testers, this model is not very breathable, with its thick padding and non-perforated leather upper.
  • Many buyers find the shoe to be narrow and tight.
  • The Nike Cortez Basic SE casual shoes only have one colorway.

Bottom line

An upgrade to the Cortez Basic Leather, the Nike Cortez Basic SE streamlines the classic silhouette with luxurious materials and attention to detail. At $90, it’s packed with the features people have come to love with the timeless model. At the same time, this edition offers plenty of modern street-ready vibes. 

Testers love the sneaker’s classic and stylish appeal, along with its pleasing features for comfort and cushioning. It’s also said to be lightweight and breaks in easily. However, buyers have criticized the shoe’s narrow feel and non-breathable upper.


Expert Reviews

  • First look | Luke

Become an expert

The Nike Cortez Basic SE comes in men’s sizes. Its upper is made with leather material that provides a durable and solid feel for any casual activity. The low-cut collar ensures that the ankle can move without hindrance, while the laces secure the tightness.

One colorway was released for the Nike Cortez Basic SE, the white/university red/white/obsidian. The color combination gives the sneaker a timeless flair, along with minimalistic and modern perspective. Plenty of clothes will suit the shoe’s simple and classic sensibilities.

Sporty pieces such as joggers, shorts, track pants, or tracksuits will go well with the model's athletic-inspired design. Meanwhile, for the casual days, the shoe can be worn with straight-fit pants, slacks, or jeans in neutral colors. A t-shirt, sweatshirt, long-sleeved shirt, or jacket should finish the relaxed yet classy style.

Like the original Cortez, the low-top Nike Cortez Basic SE has a smooth leather upper. However, this model is updated with more luxurious leather material for an extra-durable and soft feel. Classic Cortez details are retained on the upper. It has a predominantly white design and overlays at the heel and near the laces.

A sizable Swoosh logo graces the sides of this shoe, a signature touch of the Cortez series. This time, the logo is done in a bold obsidian color to stand out against the white backdrop. The Swoosh is also showcased on the heel. Ripple detailing is found on the overlays and outsole for added contrast. 

Nike's co-founder Bill Bowerman designed the classic Nike Cortez in 1972. He aimed to make it the most lightweight and comfortable running shoe at the time. The model was a success during the Olympics of that year in Munich, quickly becoming the most in-demand running footwear in the country.

Now, many decades on, the model has transformed into a sneaker icon, forever woven in pop culture history. It has expanded into a collection of lifestyle kicks, with each new version garnering attention. One such iteration is the Nike Cortez Basic Leather, which updated the original’s upper with improved leather material along with a foam midsole.

Nike didn’t stop there, either, releasing the Nike Cortez Basic SE leather footwear, which is a fresh take on the iconic model. With a bold colorway, this shoe puts a new spin on the legendary running model, exaggerating some details for a fresh aesthetic. It’s a street-ready sneaker that can be relied on for edgy looks.

  • The sole's herringbone pattern offers multi-directional traction.
  • Lightweight cushioning is provided by the sneaker’s EVA foam midsole.
Danny McLoughlin
Danny McLoughlin

Danny is a sneakerhead turned sneaker industry expert that believes a good outfit begins from the feet up. His aunt currently isn't speaking to him for wearing a pair of kicks at his cousin's wedding. He spends most of his time trying to keep on top of the latest releases, hitting up his contacts and doing what needs to be done to secure his next pickup. Danny has been featured in prestigious publications such as The Washington Post, The Irish Times, Footwear News and the like.