Did this man really exist? That’s the question you might ask when you think of Stan Smith, as the shoe that bears his name has surpassed him in fame.
It was indeed a man who inspired this world-famous Adidas shoe, but probably not the man you’re thinking of. Because before being named after the famous American tennis player Stan Smith, this immaculate white leather shoe was first called « Adidas Robert Haillet », a reference to the number one French tennis player from 1952 to 1960. In 1964, appointed sales manager at Adidas, he designed the pair for the German company in their Alsatian offices. This French background perhaps explains in part the huge success of these sneakers in the country.
But let’s get back to the point. It is only at the turn of the 1970s that the portrait of Stan Smith (the tennis player winner of the U.S. Open 71) will come to decorate the tongue of the shoe in addition to the stamp « Robert Haillet » already present, the brand wishing to develop on the American market. This strange cohabitation Smith/Haillet will end in 1978, the American replacing completely the French on the whole shoe.
Popular in all circles, adopted by icons like David Bowie or John Lennon in the 70s and 80s, and became the essential accessory for young urbanites in the 90s, the Stan Smith will live decades of prosperity. A success story stopped in May 2011. This month, Adidas announced to no longer continue the production of its flagship model. A strategy of scarcity consciously orchestrated to bring out the model again three years later, the price inflated to 95 € (for a model originally sold 50 €) having taken care to send the pair to handpicked celebrities… Pharrell Williams, Kate Moss, Gisele Bündchen or Ellen DeGeneres will thus put back the model in the spotlight. Stan Smith himself played salesman at the Parisian concept store Colette (now closed) on the day of the sneaker’s release!
A winning move for Adidas: since 2015, several million copies of the Stan Smith are sold every year. Today, we no longer count the variations of this model: in canvas, cork, pink, polka dots, vegan version, scratch… everything has been tried, or almost! The icon has now completely surpassed in notoriety its two progenitors, Haillet & Smith, so much so that the second ironically titled his 2018 autobiography “Some People Think I’m a Shoe”… The price to pay to become immortal?
This article partially quotes chapters from the book “L’Odysée de la basket” by Pierre Demoux (La Tengo Editions).
To go further, find below our selection of the most successful Stan Smith collabs!
Stan Smith x Colette
When the (defunct) Parisian label puts its iconic blue polka dots on the pair to celebrate its comeback on the shelves. Produced in only 100 copies, it now reaches high resale prices.
Stan Smith x Pharrell Williams
A series of 10 models with hippie patterns customized by Pharrell himself, also distributed exclusively at the Parisian shop Colette for the return of the pair. Announcing the long term partnership between Adidas and the artist who will sign many collabs thereafter.
Stan Smith Boost
When Adidas decides to combine the modern comfort of its Boost sole with the classic style of tennis. A winning combination of two eras.
Stan Smith OG Primeknit (White/Red)
Same principle, this time using the Primeknit technology (German equivalent of Nike’s Flyknit) to enjoy a lighter and more airy fabric on the upper. A summer hit, but one you’ll take on all year round.
Because life is far too short to dress only in black and white.
Barneys x Colette x Dover Street Market
An association between three Avengers of the ready-to-wear industry, namely Colette (Paris), Barneys (New York) and Dover Street Market (London). Not the most original, but a “premium” edition that adds a touch of luxury to the model. Sad times for the retail industry, however, two of the three stores have since closed their doors.
Billionaire Boys Club “Palm Tree” Edition
Never short of ideas, Pharrell signed in 2016 for his brand BBC a tropical edition of the Stan Smith, associated with a matching jacket. Ready to go on vacation again?
adidas Y-3 Stan Smith Zip
Just when you thought you’d seen it all, Yohji Yamamoto shows us that it’s still possible to revisit the model, with zippers on the sides and a premium finish. Arigatō gozaimashita!
Another inspired Japanese designer, Nigo proposed a collection of Stan Smith and Adidas Campus revisited for his brand Human Made. The red heart is reminiscent of Comme des Garçons’ Play line, while remaining true to the original model.
Pharrell Williams x Adidas HU ‘Ecru Tint Cream White’
How not to finish with Pharrell as his participations were numerous? This off-white colorway has the benefit of bringing a discreet touch of freshness to a model already seen and reviewed. The Stan Smith-mania is not ready to stop anytime soon.
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