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While it’s all well and good to dream of five-figure resale kicks and trendy collaborations, sometimes the best sneakers are the ones you can actually put on your feet. While the words “effortless” and “timeless” are often sprinkled far too liberally around the sneaker world, the Adidas Stan Smith definitely does the trick.
A pioneer of its time, the Adidas Stan Smith can be credited with spawning hundreds of minimalist sneakers, from the elevated Common Projects Achilles and Axel Arigato Clean 90s and suit-fit to the more casual Oliver Cabell Low 1 and Veja Campo. Yet none are able to match the enduring appeal of the Stan Smith.
Like many sneakers that have stood the test of time, the Stan Smith is rooted in performance. In 1963, Adidas produced its first tennis shoes: the Robert Haillet, named after the French tennis star. Created by Horst Dassler, son of Adolf founder Adolf “Adi” Dassler, the Adidas Robert Haillet was the first tennis shoe to be made from leather rather than canvas.
In 1971, Adidas signed an agreement with American tennis star – and two-time Grand Slam champion – Stan Smith, with Horst Dassler proposing that the Robert Haillet be reused with Smith’s name with the intention of gaining recognition in the States -United. After a brief period in which leather sneakers bore both Haillet’s name and Smith’s likeness, the Adidas Stan Smith as we know it today was released in 1978, complete with the green heel patch. immediately recognizable Kelly and Smith’s name and likeness.
Nearly five decades after its initial launch, Adidas Stan Smith’s fame has far exceeded the man on his tongue, a fact brazenly referenced by Smith’s book, Stan Smith: Some people think I’m a shoe.
However, the former world No. 1 is a fan through and through. “When the shoe came out with my picture on the tongue, I kept staring at it during my matches, and it was distracting, humbling and exhilarating,” Smith recalled in an interview with vogue. Soon, Smith’s opponents also began sporting his face on their feet. “I didn’t think it was appropriate for people to beat me with this shoe,” he joked. Squire.
The Adidas Stan Smith is defined by its minimalist, almost essentialist approach. Entirely white except for a pop of color on the heel, the Stan Smith quickly transcended its roots as a performance shoe in the ’80s as technical sportswear began to gain popularity. Instead, the Stan Smith became a street style staple, sported by celebrities and everyday people alike, with early adopters in the old camp including David Bowie and John Lennon.
Unlike versions that gain desirability through rarity, the Adidas Stan Smith gained notoriety through ubiquity. You don’t have to wait in line for hours or waste a month’s rent to pick up a pair. “It’s a classic, wearable, affordable and abundant look,” says Gijs Verheijke, founder and CEO of Ox Street, of the Stan Smith’s enduring appeal. “They’re an easy choice because they’re so commonly available and affordable.”
One of the great things about the Stan Smith is that it doesn’t have to be ‘stylish’, it just goes well with everything. Innocent in its minimalism, the sleek aesthetic of the Stan Smith allows it to twirl between dress codes. Verheijke attests to this, calling it “one of the few silhouettes you could bring as your only pair of shoes on a business trip.”
“Stan Smiths are in a category of their own for being able to look both casual and dressy, depending on what you wear them with,” Verheijke tells me. “They go well with jeans, shorts, chinos or even with a suit.” While the original white and green colorway is more than enough to go with any outfit, Adidas has also riffed on the classic design with an all-black iteration as well as an abundance of collaborative ventures that often see Stan Smith – the l the man, not the shoe — a portrait swapped for that of his collaborator.
Yet the Stan Smith wouldn’t have the enduring appeal it has if it weren’t for its beautifully essential design. The smooth round toe, perforated three stripes and luxe leather look are accented with a hint of green. Embodying purity of design, the Adidas Stan Smith can go just about anywhere, but not on the tennis court. — Angel Tanisha
You can buy a pair of adidas Stan Smith on Amazon or adidas.com (from $70)
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