The Stan Smith Sneaker

The adidas Stan Smith is an icon in every city, for every court

“Hi, I’m Stan Smith. I’m a tennis player, but a lot of people think I’m a shoe.” 

This kind of makes sense when you consider how many other tennis players you know on a first name basis, and how few have Jay Z namedropping them in his raps. 

The very first leather tennis shoe ever made has grown to become a lifestyle brand that has seen collaborations with everyone from Pharrell Williams to Collette, Dover Street Market to Barneys.

But how did a simple white tennis sneaker become a streetwear icon?

In 1963 the son of adidas founder Adi Dassler, Horst, came up with a rubber-soled, all-white leather tennis shoe that he named after French tennis pro Robert Haillet. The “adidas Robert Haillet” was the first adidas silhouette to be stripped of the three stripes, which were replaced by three rows of perforations on both sides where the stripes would usually be. After Haillet retired Horst went looking for another athlete to endorse the shoe.

When Stanley Roger Smith was a lad he wanted to be a ball boy at the Davis Cup, but was turned down because the organisers thought he was too clumsy. Stan Smith then stumbled on to become a world No. 1 and two-time Grand Slam singles champion, with a US Open title, a Wimbledon title and four Grand Prix Championship Series to his name. However, it was taking his name and lending it to adidas, signing what is considered one of the most influential sneaker sponsorships in sports history, that was arguably his biggest coup.

In 1971 the model was renamed the “adidas Stan Smith” with Smith’s illustrated portrait added to the tongue of the sneaker (Fun Fact: the photo used was taken during the one instance in Stan Smith’s life that he didn’t have a mustache) and the green foam padding added at the back of the shoe for Achilles tendon protection. 

The Stan Smith’s appeal is that everyone wears it. Young and old, male and female, preppy and punk – and if you’re anything like us, a single pair just won’t do, and you keep an OG beater pair and a second pair that’s really pristine for those special occasions.

At the turn of the century, the adidas Stan Smith II was re-issued, and then in 2008 a replica of the original adidas Stan Smith was released in the Originals line as the adidas Stan Smith 80s. The classic shoe has remained the same since its introduction, albeit with some newly introduced versions, colourways and even a velcro-strap version.

Following its triumphant return in 2014, the Stan Smith has reaffirmed its status as preppy footwear royalty – it’s been claimed that 40 million pairs have been sold to date.

Often imitated but never replicated, the adidas Stan Smith’s unparalleled blend of effortless style and pure simplicity is a statement that rings true with every model released – in every city, for every court.


Shop adidas Originals here