The Story Behind- Adidas Stan Smith

Written by Robert | 17/04/2014

Adidas Originals


Brand Focus



This year the Adidas Stan Smith has been released once again after a 2-year absence from the market. Well known as one of the best-selling trainers of all time, this shoe’s presence has been hotly anticipated within the industry.

It was initially designed as a tennis shoe but the Adidas Stan Smith has proceeded to create a legacy that far succeeds its original intentions. That is because now, the shoe is known not only as an icon of sportswear but also as a revolutionary fashion design.

Strangely, you won’t find a single tour player in tennis who wears these shoes now- they are outdated in terms of technology and would likely prove a disadvantage to wear if anything. But for a period of time (in the ’60s mainly) they were seen primarily as a sports shoes and worn by professionals. The story of the Adidas Stan Smith is a unique one in which a single silhouette has reached the pinnacle of two functionalities, reinvented without being redesigned.

Stan Smith classic

Stan Smith

Branded and released circa 1963, this modern-day sneaker was first released as the inaugural leather tennis shoe and named the “Adidas Robert Haillet” after the French tennis player of the time. When he retired having never won a grand slam event, Adidas stepped up their game and sponsored the bigger name in tennis, Stan Smith, who was world number one at the time and eventually won a couple of the premier titles, including Wimbledon. This partnership helped Adidas grow and pushed them through the boundary of being predominantly a European brand, outreaching the label to an American audience and thus creating the global sportswear giant of today.

Wimbledon Smith

Sneaker Style

As something of an unlikely name associated with style, Stan Smith has seen his reputation altered by these trainers to the extent many would associate his name with the footwear rather than that of a great tennis player. Hardly the image of a fashion icon, being the older, moustache wearing gentleman that he is- it makes it all the more remarkable that a shoe bearing his name has sold more than any other on the market and has connected generations of style subcultures, middle and working classes, multiple nationalities, and races.

The simplicity of the Stan Smith is a well-known success factor, translating from the elegant on-court fashion within tennis. This shoe has remained true to its strengths down the years in the face of the increasingly extravagant designs from competitors, refusing to comply with the unquenchable thirst of designers to incorporate new technology into the market.

Stan Smith radiates class, simple yet effective styling which is never complicated.

The new collection at Mainline Menswear contains some experimental colours in the new suede outer

Suede Stan smith 2Suede Stan Smith 3Suede Stan Smith

Technical Breakdown

Now defunct as a sports shoe, this trainer entered the lifestyle category long ago and instead portrays a vintage style, lending itself to fashion retailers. The full leather construction has remained throughout the years, keeping its minimalist colour scheme too- which is contrasted only by the cushioned Achilles heel protection tab- classically a green patch on the white body. The Stan Smith silhouette still appears on the tongue along with the air vent style holes on the side panels which used to act as a technological aid for wearers playing sports. The introduction of suede instead of leather and a whole collection of “artistic” colour schemes are the main advancements down the years, but the shape and style of the shoe itself have remained as a recognition of its wide-reaching admiration.


Having allegedly sold over 40 million pairs worldwide this shoe’s legacy speaks for itself in a lot of ways, it was inducted into the Guinness book of world records in 1988 for units sold of one shoe style. The tennis shoe has always been popular not just through Adidas’ lines, but throughout fashion as a whole. The preppy polo’s and pristine whites create an enduring sense of a clean-cut gentleman. Stan Smith has been used in the same way as Rene Lacoste to create a fashion moniker that far exceeds their own sporting prestige. Could this same effect be happening with Nike’s sell-out Air Jordan’s? Sporting superstars have proved to be very powerful marketing tools down the years.

Adidas Stan Smith

The Return  

The Adidas advert for Stan Smith’s re-launch features the man himself alongside the likes of Andy Murray

After a two year sabbatical from the turbulent fashion industry, the Stan Smith now returns with a new sense of invigoration. Considering the design doesn’t carry the Adidas three stripes, it is ironic that it has become one of their most famous designs, respected by top designers such as Marc Jacobs and by celebrities such as Jay-Z. Most of the new generation of Stan Smith wearers won’t know who the man himself is, but his alternative reputation in fashion will live through many more generations and its timeless style will be re-imagined time and time again.

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