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A Brief History of the Iconic adidas Stan Smith

    adidas stan smith three og colors

    We all know the shoe, but do you really know the adidas Stan Smith history? Well, we will share it with you right now. To tell the story behind the Stan Smith is also to share a greater and better part of sneakers history.

    Stan Smith, the tennis player, became one of the main personas within the sports shoe category and almost without noticing (at least at first). Before anything else, most people are for sure asking themselves:

    Who is Stan Smith?

    stan smith tennis player

    What did Stan Smith, this American and former tennis player do to become so special for a sportswear brand? There is a special distinction that comes with going from substance to style.

    When a sneaker transitions completely from the realm of performance to that of fashion, it’s pretty special. You don’t have to spend much time thinking to come up with a list of such models.

    But, that list will no doubt include, if not be led by, one of the most recognizable silhouettes of all time: the adidas Originals Stan Smith. Because this is a shoe that even the casual sneakerhead sees every day, it’s easy to miss on its significance.

    Like most sneakers, popular or otherwise, there’s a story behind the Stan Smith that adds sentimental value. With its original release back in 1963, this model owes its first name to Robert Haillet.

    Who was Robert Haillet?

    Robert Haillet adidas

    Haillet, the French tennis star, was relevant enough to carry the new sneaker all on his own. But, still, adidas goes on to make an interesting – and fateful – decision.

    Going after slightly bigger fish, the brand enlists the shoe’s eventual namesake, American superstar Stan Smith. Not only did the brand successfully ink a world-famous champion to a sponsorship deal, they earned some street cred in America after being a mainly Euro brand.

    They may not have known it at the time, but adidas had also started on their road to fashion relevance. Frankly, that’s the very definition of irony.

    adidas typical turns into modern:

    Simply put, the sneaker’s namesake was as far from being a style icon as a middle-aged, mustachioed man could be. Aesthetically, Smith was the typical tennis player of his era.

    His pictures often show a monochrome ensemble that borders on bland. Yet, the shoe now stands on a platform that includes other legendary fashion pieces.

    adidas stan smith og

    Image Credit: adidas

    Are Stan Smiths made with real leather?

    Most models and versions are in fact made with real leather. Functionally, there isn’t much to the adidas Stan Smith.

    A full real leather upper, usually in White, shows some stitching details and little else. We also usually see an achilles section that sports padding and some color variation.

    The cushion, as with bold design details, is virtually nonexistent in the OG. As such, this isn’t a shoe you’ll see tennis players actually use.

    Then again, that’s not why this shoe is so relevant, is it? From subtle performer to the ubiquitous style icon we know today, the adidas Stan Smith goes through quite the shift. The adidas Stan Smith history is for sure a rich one.

    In fact, most associate the tennis legend with the shoe before even considering his record of Grand Slam titles. In an interesting twist, the style very handily beats style.

    And, frankly, as far as this sneaker is concerned, most of us in the sneaker-loving community wouldn’t have it any other way. You’ll want to avoid hitting the courts with these, but you’d be hard-pressed to find an outfit that can’t be finished off with a crisp pair of Stans.

    Horween Leather adidas Stan Smith

    Image Credit: adidas

    One more adidas Stan Smith is never enough

    adidas has released hundreds, if not thousands of versions of the Stan Smith. During recent years there have been some interesting iterations such as the Made in Germany pack, a wool ‘winterized’ version, or a minimalistic one, presented as the Leather Sock.

    The truth is that even if there are countless ways to look at the shoe, adidas managed to keep its ethos completely intact. There is no way around a silhouette that more than often embodies the very significance of ‘white sneakers’ as we know it.

    Sneakers like Stan Smith, so unique and distinct, are basically hard to find. Even if it is with super cool interpretations like the ones done by Raf Simons, or more colorful like the one with BEDWIN & the HEARTBREAKERS signature there seems to be no way around Stan Smith’s originality.

    You can find adidas Stan Smith sneakers available to buy at and also at sites like Sneakersnstuff, Caliroots or END. Clothing.




    Image Credit Robert Haillet: Retroboga