His name is synonymous with casual fashion, emblazoned across the UK’s best selling trainers of all time, yet it’s fair to say that the man himself is a mere side-show in comparison to the iconic footwear that festoons him. And so we ask… who the fuck is Stan Smith?
The casuals movement of the late 1970s heralded a significant shift in attitude; out went replica shirts, club-coloured bar scarves and flares to be replaced with heavily branded sportswear and drainpipe jeans – and the adidas Stan Smith trainers were at the heart of it all.
And yet whilst this craze emanated from England’s dark, industrial north-west and became part of the modern football fan’s identity, it was a lanky, unassuming Californian thousands of miles away with no connection to ‘soccer’ who sparked it all off.
Stan Smith was an all-conquering tennis player with 39 singles titles to his name, including a thrilling five-set success at Wimbledon in 1972 – and he rocked a moustache greater than any ‘Movember’ efforts we’ve witnessed in the last few weeks.
The man just reeked of humble, effortless cool, and adidas wanted a slice of that. In 1971, the Stan Smith trainer was born and like the man himself it was simple, distinctive and adorned those three traditional stripes.
By 1979, the trainers were flying high on the Christmas lists of many a northern lad, in a variety of colours and designs but always with that same rubber sole which went on to fascinate and obsess their minds for several years.
In the same era, the Dunlop Flash trainer, Fred Perry polo shirt and brands such as Sergio Tacchini were also testament to how on-court style had expanded well beyond the tramlines and into everyday fashion.
These days, Stan the Man heads a top tennis academy in South Carolina whilst the trainer lives on as a constant presence in the adidas catalogue – selling almost 35 million pairs since its inception. It is arguably the most iconic trainer of all time.