Although adidas’ Stan Smith began as a tennis shoe, the style is most commonly adopted as an everyday sneaker. Stan Smith sneakers were originally produced in 1963. The classic leather shoe was the idea of Horst Dassler, the son of adidas founder Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler. The Stan Smith has proceeded to create a legacy which far succeeds its original intentions. That is because now, the shoe is known not only as an icon of sports wear, but also as a revolutionary fashion design.
Strangely, you won’t find a single tour player in tennis who wears these shoes now- they are outdated in terms of technology and would likely prove a disadvantage to wear if anything. But for a period of time (in the 60’s mainly) they were seen primarily as a sports shoe and worn by professionals. The story of the adidas Stan Smith is a unique one in which a single silhouette has reached the pinnacle of two functionalities, reinvented without being redesigned.
Branded and released circa 1963, this modern day sneaker was first released as the inaugural leather tennis shoe and named the “adidas Robert Haillet” after the French tennis player of the time. When he retired having never won a grand slam event, adidas stepped up their game and sponsored the bigger name in tennis, Stan Smith, who was world number one at the time and eventually won a couple of the premier titles, including Wimbledon. This partnership helped adidas grow and pushed them through the boundary of being predominantly a European brand, outreaching the label to an American audience and thus creating the global sportswear giant of today.
The Stan Smith sneaker is typically made with white leather and the upper and laces are white in colour as well. Unlike adidas’ other shoes, it doesn’t have the famous three stripes. Instead, there are three rows of punched ventilation holes, which can be found on both sides of the shoe. Adding an element of charm, the sneakers include a sketch of Stan Smith, which can be found on the tongue of the shoe. You could say that the branding is minimal but it still has the great adidas look. Although the design of the shoe has stayed the same ever since it was introduced, there are plenty of colours and new versions available in the current market.
Taking into account the clean, classic style of Stan Smith sneakers, it’s not difficult to see why the tennis shoes took the world by storm. In fact, the shoes were once listed in the Guinness Book of World Records after selling twenty-two million pairs as of 1988.
Having allegedly sold over 40 million pairs worldwide this shoe’s legacy speaks for itself in a lot of ways, especially as to why it was inducted into the Guinness book of world records in 1988 for units sold of one shoe style. The tennis shoe has always been popular not just through adidas’ lines, but throughout fashion as a whole. The preppy polo’s and pristine whites create an enduring sense of a clean cut gentlemen. Most of the new generation of Stan Smith wearers won’t know who the man himself is, but his alternative reputation in fashion will live through many more generations and its timeless style will be re-imagined time and time again.