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The adidas Stan Smith shoe is a true icon, synonymous with classic style and an everyday staple of footwear history. Since debuting over five decades ago, Stan Smith sneakers remains one of adidas’ most popular footwear lines.
The adidas Stan Smith shoe, named after former U.S. tennis champion Stan Smith, was the first leather shoe made for tennis. Originally created to enable high performance on the court, it was designed with a leather upper and three perforated vertical rows that allowed for ventilation and breathability, making it an ideal shoe for an indoor or outdoor match. These elements, combined with the rubber outsole, Kelly green accents, padded collar, and textile lining, contribute to a shoe that shoppers know and love today.
While the Stan Smith sneaker remains a functional pair of tennis shoes for women and men, it has gradually evolved into an international street style icon, beloved by athletes and celebrities like A$AP Rocky, Kanye West, Miranda Kerr, Julianne Moore, and Kylie Jenner.
In the 50 plus years since the original Stan Smith sneakers launched, adidas has kept the sneakers’ look consistent from one version to the next, while introducing recycled materials to align with the brand’s effort and commitment to help end plastic waste. adidas has also collaborated on new variations of the classic adidas walking shoe in partnership with nonprofit organizations, fashion designers, and artists such as Stella McCartney, Raf Simons, Hello Kitty, Human Made, Ivy Park, and Sporty & Rich.
Whether you’re hitting the gym, running errands, or heading to the office, adidas Stan Smith sneakers are suitable for it all. Plus, they’re a blank canvas for styling — you can wear these sneakers with dresses, jeans, sweatpants, and more.
Below, browse some of adidas’ best Stan Smith shoes to find the perfect pair for you or to gift to any man or woman in your life.
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Like most of adidas’ best sneakers, there’s a story behind Stan Smith shoes.
It all began in the 1980s with tennis player John McEnroe endorsing innovation for Nike. Later, the likes of Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Roger Federer, and others would follow suit, pushing product on the court and in commercials. Today, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka are best in show when it comes to record-breaking talent and on-court fashion.
Years before all those endorsements occurred, adidas had operated in the tennis space by selling a shoe composed of white leather with perforated sidewall branding and a rubber outsole. The idea for a tennis shoe was informed by Horst Dassler, son of adidas founder Adolf “Adi” Dassler.
From 1965 to 1971, the leather tennis shoe was worn in competition by French tennis star Robert Haillet, who served as the main endorser for adidas on the court and clay. Because of this, the model was marketed as the adidas Robert Haillet, solidifying the idea that signature footwear existed firmly in the world of tennis.
But when Robert Haillet retired from tennis in 1971, so did the approach of using his name to sell a shoe. Two years later, American tennis pro Stan Smith signed with adidas at the peak of his career and took over endorsing the signature tennis model. Consequently, the classic court shoe with green foam padding on the heel for Achilles protection was re-branded as the “adidas Stan Smith” and sold to a U.S. audience.
Over the course of the 1970s, the adidas Stan Smith was sold with a portrait of the American tennis star on the tongue, with Haillet branding at the heel as a callback to the shoe’s origins. By 1978, the brand dropped all references to Haillet from the shoe. During that decade, the adidas Stan Smith sold incredibly well due to the fanfare surrounding Smith as well as the shoe’s clean design.
By 1985, Stan Smith, the tennis star, was ready to put down his racquet and retire from the sport as a competing professional. But his version of the shoe had become so popular there was no reason to re-brand this time around. As a result, the adidas Stan Smith stayed in circulation as a tennis staple and lifestyle favorite for the remainder of the 1980s and through the 2000s to follow.
In the 2010s, the adidas Stan Smith had outlasted its run as a practical performance shoe but still served a purpose on the front of fashion. Famously, the adidas Stan Smith remained the brand’s signature shoe at the start of the decade, only to be rolled back out for Fashion Week in 2014. Coinciding with the launch of the adidas Consortium, which collaborates with leading partners to create limited-edition styles, the Stan Smith was reimagined in color-blocked finishes and premium constructions. However, it wasn’t until 2015 that the adidas Stan Smith went mainstream. When Céline’s Phoebe Philo came out for her bow at the end of her fall 2010 runways how wearing a turtleneck, black trousers, and adidas Stan Smith shoes, the sneaker turned into a bonafide trend in a matter of weeks.
The ubiquitous nature of the adidas Stan Smith design played well with wearers of all genders, timing perfectly with the ‘normcore’ and ‘quiet luxury’ trends. As adidas continued to bring in creatives under their brand umbrella, the likes of Raf Simons revised the Stan Smith with perforated R branding, luxury materials, and, on occasion, velcro closures. Artists such as A$AP Rocky and Travis Scott regularly wore the adidas x Raf Simons Stan Smith collaborations, further boosting the appeal of inline pairs.
Despite debuting over half a century ago, the adidas Stan Smith sneakers prove to be a timeless canvas for self-expression. In fact, both leading fashion designers and film franchises have taken to the silhouette as a way to tell their stories subtly or boldly. Depending on the level of embellishment, Stan Smith sneakers can be a staple or statement piece — providing great comfort to all who wear it.
Available in sizes for toddlers all the way to adults, there are styles available in the iconic White/Green look, all-over Trefoil prints, creamy colorways with glossy tooling, furry finishes tied to Disney’s Monsters, Inc. and eco-friendly iterations composed from sustainable materials.
No matter the era, the adidas Stan Smith remains true to its origin story by allowing the wearer to decide its meaning.
Ian Stonebrook is a freelance writer for Footwear News. Prior to signing on, Ian spent a decade at Nice Kicks as a writer and editor. Throughout his career, he’s covered culture, sports, and fashion for Boardroom, Complex, Jordan Brand, GOAT, Cali BBQ Media, SoleSavy, and 19Nine. Stonebrook wrote the original version of adidas’ Stan Smith shoe history.
Nikki Chwatt is the Style Commerce Editor for Footwear News and WWD, where she writes and edits shopping stories on celebrity style, the latest fashion trends, and new shoe releases. Before joining Footwear News, Chwatt wrote for publications, including Editorialist. In her spare time, she enjoys scrolling through her favorite retailers and social platforms to stay up to date on the latest, greatest, and classics of what people wear, buy and love. As a New York City native, Chwatt is always searching for the best designer sneakers to get around comfortably. As a result, she has an overstuffed shoe closet that needs to be cleaned out. Chwatt has updated this story on the adidas Stan Smith shoe history. Learn more about us here.