Real Talk: adidas Stan Smith, Forever
Fashion may be a fickle beast, but certain sneakers have that magical je ne se quois that keeps the sales registers ticking over despite frequent sartorial shifts. Rising to prominence in the 1970s, the adidas Stan Smith has outlasted every trend since it debuted. Despite being five decades deep in the game, ‘Stan’ continues to redefine what a sneaker can be, reaffirming its ever-‘green’ status with an innovative renovation in 2021. Blessed with the cleanest looks and unrivalled versatility, the low-profile court classic is an official Three Stripes legend.
The Perennial Champion
The Stan Smith has always been associated with winners, but contrary to popular belief, Stan wasn’t the first tennis star to put his name to the iconic silhouette. The earliest incarnation arrived in the early 60s, when Horst Dassler, son of adidas founder Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler, came up with an idea for a leather tennis shoe, which quickly became a favourite among pros and recreational players alike. Horst just needed to add some star-power and that’s where Robert Haillet came in. Arguably the game’s best player at the time, Haillet became the name behind adi’s premier tennis shoe. It was a doubles pairing made in heaven, especially considering the shoes were made in France, where Haillet was born and bred.
With Halliet moving into the twilight of his career by the early 70s, Horst Dassler was keen to find a new athlete endorsement. After rising to world number one off the back of Grand Slam titles at the US Open and Wimbledon in 1971 and 1972, there was no doubt that Stan Smith was adidas’ new marquee man. The charismatic American put pen to paper with adi in 1973.
A Trefoil was added to the tongue in 1974, before it was moved to the heel to make way for Stan’s portrait graphic (bizarrely, one without his trademark moustache) and his classic signature. His name was also added to the heel, right next to the iconic adidas logo. During these design tweaks, Robert Haillet’s name remained on the upper but by 1978, the Stan Smith – the shoe not the man! – was finally born. Despite the mini-identity crisis, one thing was certain – adidas had created arguably the greatest tennis shoe of all time.
From Court King to Street Icon
As tennis performance tech evolved, the Stan Smith slowly moved away from court action and into low-key retirement. Aesthetically, it’s really no surprise that the clean lines and simple colours were so loved.The numbers tell the story. It has been reported that adidas had sold 22 million pairs by 1988 and as many as 40 million pairs by 2005. Today, the Stan Smith is regarded as the highest-selling adidas sneaker of all time.
A testament to its timelessness, the silhouette has nevertheless gone through a few significant facelifts since the 70s. Perhaps the most notable structural tweaks came when adidas introduced the Stan Smith II in the year 2000, with a very of-the-time chunky look and thicker padded tongue. To the relief of purists, these changes were scrapped in 2008 when the iconic low-profile look was restored as the Stan Smith 80s. BOOST cushioning and Primeknit upgrades added maximum comfort, while Pharrell Williams' signature Tennis Hu was a modern reimagining of Smith’s signature.
A new wave of Stan fans emerged thanks largely to the influence of fashionistas and celebrities like supermodel Gisele Bündchen, who famously wore a pair – and only a pair – in a famed Vogue Paris photoshoot in 2013. Shortly afterwards, Kanye West reaffirmed his adidas allegiance when he sported Stans in his own GQ shoot.
Unsurprisingly, sneaker boutiques and fashion designers soon craved their own opportunity to elevate the iconic silhouette with their own distinctive flourishes. As a result, the Stan’s collaborative clout remains at an all-time high, with the likes of Sneakersnstuff, BAIT, END., Mastermind, Barneys New York, Dover Street Market, Raf Simons and Yohji Yamamoto all finessing the iconic model in their own image. Perhaps A$AP Rocky put it best, ‘Stand-up guy, I’d rather stand out. Raf Simons, Stan Smith edition with my bands out.’
Always Iconic. Now More Sustainable
Stan opens a brand new chapter in 2021, emerging as a more sustainable sneaker than ever. The legendary good looks are still present, but if you dig beneath the clean white exterior, you’ll find the modern ‘Stan’ has gone a very particular shade of green.
Redesigned as part of the Three Stripes’ pledge to use only recycled polyester by 2024, the latest rendition is constructed with vegan materials and an outsole made from rubber waste. Foregoing traditional leather, Primegreen is a high-performance material constructed using 50 per cent recycled content, which means no virgin polyester has been used. The next evolution of adidas’ famed Parley for the Oceans partnership, Primegreen and Primeblue, represent the adidas’ commitment to end plastic waste for good.
Other than that, the 2021 Stan stays true to the wholesome original, coming through with the low profile and clean lines that have made it a staple in rotations all over the world. The traditional green Stan Smith graphic still adorns the tongues, while the Trefoil and text dress the heel tab. As always, the perforated Three Stripes subtly punctuate the sleek flanks. Yes indeed, the cleanest sneaker of all time just got even cleaner!
The adidas Stan Smith Primegreen is available now via adidas AU!