Thursday, September 4, 2014

[Repost]: How the Stan Smith Inspired a New Generation of Luxury Sneakers

by Daniel so



High fashion and sportswear

have always been steady complements in

the broader realm of style


We’ve seen time and again how

one usually influences the other and

in the world of sneakers

nothing may be as timeless and stylish as

the adidas Stan Smith

adidas Stan Smith (via Style by bru)


It was the first ever

leather tennis sneaker and

had a somewhat colorful history

after its initial drop in 1963

long before the modern runway show

we know today and

over a decade after

it actually became the Stan Smith


The shoe was first named after

French tennis pro Robert Haillet in 1965

01 adidas Robert Haillet (via Pinterest)

but it wasn't until 1973

after he retired

that it was renamed for Smith


It was a wise decision

adidas was trying to break

the U.S. market at the time and

Smith was the top player in America

so it was a natural fit


O.G. cats probably still know these as

the adidas Robert Haillets

but for the newer generation

myself included

Smith is the face (and name)

we've all come to recognize

01 Stan Smith (via ACCLAIM magazine)


From that moment

a movement was born


By the late 1980s into the early '90s

adidas sold over 23 million pairs

earning a spot in the Guinness World Records


Nike even released a similar shoe in 1973

the Tennis Classic

that may have been spurred by

adidas' success

03 Nike Tennis Classic copy


More recently, however

Phoebe Philo, creative director at

French fashion house Céline is

widely credited with

bringing the Stan Smith to the forefront of

stylish Parisians and the world over after

rocking a pair during

fashion week in Spring 2010

04 Phoebe Philo, creative director of Celine wearing adidas Stan Smith (via


This unofficial endorsement of sorts

made waves in the industry and

can be huge when it comes to

fashion stans trying to

embrace the next big thing


Fast forward to 2014 and

you'll see any number of

celebrities and influencers wearing

the three perforated stripes


Another big nod came in May when

adidas announced they'd be releasing

10 pairs of Stan Smiths all hand-painted by

The Neptunes' very own Pharrell and even

Raf Simons got to create a

signature rendition of the sneaker, too

06 Pharrell handpainted 10 adidas Stan Smith for charity


Perhaps it's this

culmination of celebrity exposure that

we've seen a spate of high-fashion brands

releasing their own interpretations of

the iconic tennis shoe


The celebrity appeal and

its luxury association with fashion designers

have given the Stan Smith plenty of

stock with people of all ages and incomes

Bedwin & The Heartbreakers x adidas Originals Stan Smith (via freshness mag)

So it's not surprising that ever since these

and a broader sportswear trend in general

saw a return to the runway in recent years

there's been a huge influx of designers

trying to cash in on the

simple yet stylish aesthetic of

the Stan Smith

Colette x adidas Stan Smith 2014 (via SneakerNews)

Or perhaps it's the rich history of

the Stan Smith coupled with its

recent return to the international stage that

gave the fashion world the confidence

it needed to inspire their own versions—

its minimalist approach makes it

the perfect canvas for others to draw on


Arguably the most important and earliest

adopter of the silhouette among them is

Common Projects


They first entered the foray in 2004

but it wasn't until several years later that

its appeal began gaining steam after

the hiatus of the Stan Smith


Eschewing cluttered details and

favoring clean design

their Achilles model was essentially

an even-more-stripped-down Stan Smith at

its core with a sleeker toe box

retooled midsole and

premium Italian leather upper

Common Project Achilles


They were widely touted by

the style cognoscenti​ and became

the de facto sneaker for the

slightly sophisticated and thus

a trend was born


Luxury iterations from the likes of

Saint Laurent Paris,

ETQ Amsterdam, Buttero and

Acne Studios

Acne Adrian Sneakers (via End Clothing)


are now ubiquitous and

can be found far and wide

thanks to the Achilles

which is truly a testament to

how perfect the silhouette is



But when all is said and done

the Stan Smith sneaker without

Stan Smith the player is still a great shoe

which begs the question:


Did the simplicity of the silhouette

transcend both the athlete and adidas?


Would an Air Jordan 1-inspired sneaker ever

have the same appeal without

Michael Jordan and a Swoosh

but made with better

materials and craftsmanship?


That’s all up to you

It's a matter of personal preference

style and taste and

whether one's a traditionalist or not


No matter which way you look at it

it's impossible to deny

the Stan Smith’s influence on

the modern sneaker industry and

its high fashion counterparts and

how a shoe so old can still be relevant

in a world increasingly

dominated by seasonal microtrends


Daniel So is an associate editor at Complex and

ironically doesn't own any of these shoes.

You can follow him on Twitter here.

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