Seen a pair of these lately? We'll be shocked if you haven't. Flickr/Maria Morri
Many have heard of the legendary Adidas Stan Smith sneaker.
But few are aware that the shoe, first introduced in 1963 and recently hailed asВ one of the most important sneakers in the world,В takes its name fromВ former No. 1 tennis player Stan Smith.
To boot, a lotВ of the trendsetters bopping around in Stan Smiths todayВ probably weren't even born by the timeВ Smith had retired from tennis in 1985.
The shoe's recent popularity is somewhat surprising, considering the sneaker hadn't sold particularly well in previous decades. Adidas even pulled Stan Smiths off the shelves in 2012.
It was reintroduced toВ much fanfare in 2014, with an aggressive social-media campaign targeting celebrities. For the stunt, Adidas sent A-listersВ shoes with their portrait on the tongue, instead of the usual drawing of Smith, according to an interview Smith did for the book "Out of the Box: The Rise of Sneaker Culture."
A photo posted by Ellen (@theellenshow) on Sep 10, 2013 at 10:49am PDTВ on Sep 10, 2013 at 10:49am PDT
From there, the shoe's popularity just exploded. SupermodelВ Gisele BГјndchen wore them (and nothing else) on the cover of Vogue, andВ they started appearing everywhere from the red carpet to the runway at Alexander Wang's spring/summer 2015В show.В Cementing the shoe's culturalВ influence, song-lyricВ annotation portal Genius.com listsВ approximately 350В Stan Smith mentions.
Since its 2014 rerelease, collaborators have come outВ of the woodwork to put their spin on the shoe.В High-profile brandsВ likeВ RAF Simons,В White Mountaineering, WingsВ + Horns,В and Fragment Designs Kazuki KuraishiВ have all designed a version of the sneakerВ in partnership with Adidas.В
SingerВ Pharrell released his own line of hand-painted Stan Smiths, which sold out almostВ immediately.
And Footwear NewsВ named it "Shoe of the Year" for itsВ "widespread popularity" during the same year the shoe returned to stores. According to an Adidas spokesperson, the companyВ sold more Stan SmithsВ in 2014 than fromВ 2010 to 2013В combined.
Stan Smith wearing Stan Smiths. Flickr/adifansnet
Going back to the year it was born, 1963, the shoe was a revelationВ for the sport of tennis вЂ”В but it wasn't called the Stan Smith. В
It first appeared as the "Halliet," after French tennis player Robert Halliet. The Halliet caught onВ because it was constructedВ out of leather and offeredВ a lot more support; most tennis shoes at that time were made ofВ canvas.
When Smith became No. 1 in 1972, Adidas tapped him to co-brand the shoe, as Halliet wasn't too well-known outside of France and had recently retired. For a while, the shoe was confusingly named after both players:В Smith's portrait adorned the tongue, while Halliet's name was written across the sole fromВ 1973 to 1978.
After 1978, the shoe was renamed the Adidas Stan Smith, as we know it today.В
What's changed since '78? In addition to the original green and white shoe, Adidas also sellsВ versions with red and navy substituting for the green. Additionally, there's a variety of materials to choose from, including suede and knit, as well asВ colorful models with artwork and those designerВ collaborations we mentioned earlier.
What hasn't changed is the reason this shoe has endured and sold over 40 million pairs since its inception: Its simple lines and low profile are timeless, explaining in part its perennial popularity.
If you ask Smith, however, he'd just say it's the shoe's "simple design" and "clean white color" that have made it such a permanent fixture on and off the court.В "It's fun to see people from all walks of life coming back to the shoe," Smith said in the book.SEE ALSO: The 18 most important sneakers of all time DON'T FORGET: Follow Business Insider's lifestyle page on Facebook! NOW WATCH: Why you shouldn't feel so bad about spending over a hundred bucks on running shoes Recommended For You Powered by Sailthru A tennis shoe from 1963 has suddenly taken the fashion world by surprise
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By Stephen Doig
11:00AM GMT 15 Jan 2014
Today, with his smart suits and downturned moustache, Stanley Roger Smith looks more like a captain of American industry than a world-beating sportsman. He looks even less like a men's style icon.
Yet, indirectly at least, Smith has informed the wardrobes of myriad subcultures; from LA skaters to the Japanese avant garde, from sports casuals to indie kids, as well as legions of sporting greats. For the 1970s tennis star's name has appeared on the best-selling sports shoe of all time since 1971. The Adidas Stan Smith has sold a not inconsiderable 40 million pairs over the years (you hear that, Converse All Stars?) and, today, after two years on the sidelines, Smith's shoes are stepping back into the limelight.
Thanks to tennis's air of gentility and elegance - the crisp whites, the preppy polo shirts - the sport has always had an inherent sense of style, which is nowhere more visible than in the footwear worn by its participants. Whether squeaking merrily on the asphalt courts of WASPish country clubs or skidding across the scorched summer turf of Wimbledon, tennis shoes have long been some of the most appealing items of sports kit. And none have endured better that Adidas’s original tennis shoe.
Stan Smith celebrating his Wimbledon victory in 1972Related Articles
Like Chuck Taylor, the 1920s baseball star who lent his moniker to Converse’s All Stars, and tennis star Rene Lacoste, who co-founded La Chemise Lacoste in 1933 to mass-produce the polo shirt that he had worn on the way to several Grand Slam titles (and which went on to become a design titan), Stan Smith was a sporting zenith in his own right before he became synonymous with an item of apparel. From the dusty courts of Pasadena, California, to the sport's promised land of the All England Club in London SW19, Smith’s ascent through the ranks of tennis stardom was swift.
Adidas Stan Smith: endorsed by the man himself
Throughout his rise, he wore a tennis shoe called the Adidas Robert Haillet, named after the renowned French tennis player of the '50s and '60s, who was enlisted by the sportswear firm in 1965 to lend their footwear some extra gravitas. Little did Smith know that he’d one day take over Haillet’s mantle.
After blazing through the US Open (which he won in 1971), Smith then set his sights on Wimbledon and, in 1972, walked away from his battle with France’s Ilie Nastase victorious. With Smith now number one in the world rankings, Adidas came calling, and the shoe (Haillet never progressed beyond the semi-final of a Slam event) was swiftly renamed after the American; with his name emblazoned on the sides and a rendering of his face on the tongue.
It wasn’t purely a case of hero worship on the part of Adidas. The German sports brand, founded in 1948 by Adolf Dassler, had hitherto been relatively unknown beyond Europe: forming a harmonious sartorial marriage with America’s sporting golden boy helped the label break into the USA.
Smith on his way to winning Wimbledon, 1972
While there have been subtle variations on the classic, iconic style (injections of rainbow bright colour, bells and whistles Velcro additions that became a cult must-have in '90s Japan), perhaps the secret ingredient of the Adidas Stan Smith has always been its simplicity. As sneaker designs has become ever more outlandish, the Stan Smith has steadfastly remained a neat, minimalist shoe, devoid of extraneous adornment and free of exhaustively high falutin sports "technology" (you know the kind, where your trainers sync with your iPod, link to your Twitter, and measure your heart rate).
There's no superfluous detail here - little, in fact, beyond green or navy foam padding at the rear to protect the tendon and a row of perforations on the side for ventilation. It's all very sleek and functional. It’s a style that has nethertheless caught the eye of a number of famous fans, including Jay-Z, Usher, dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov and designer Marc Jacobs, as well as becoming a collector’s item amongst trainer connoisseurs.
The new Stan Smith shoe comes in a range of colourways
After a two-year hiatus, the shoe is back to woo a new generation, many of whom won't have been born when Stan hung up his racquet. Three new heel tab shades are available in stores now; from March there will be a range of Crayola-bright suede versions. Smith himself is 67 now, and admits that "the shoe has taken on a life of its own - way beyond me". It's a generation thing, but Smith doesn't seem to mind. "My son, when he was about eight years old," he recalls, "came up to me and me and said, 'Dad, did they name the shoe after you or you after the shoe?'"Fashion and style
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