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Paris, and the Stan Smith Comeback

October 24th, 2015 · 1 Comment · France, Paris, Tennis

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For at least four decades, I have been wearing the Stan Smith model of the Adidas tennis shoe. Going back to my early days in college.

Perhaps you know the Stan Smith. The tennis shoe.

(As opposed to the tennis player, for which the shoe was named, a world No. 1 in 1972 and a U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion now little remembered, 43 years later.)

The tennis shoe had uppers made of leather, dyed snow white, with white laces, and a green patch at the heel embossed with the Adidas logo.

I was a fan from the start. I liked the idea of all-white tennis shoes; wearing them, back then, set you apart — for good or ill.

However, more than once, during my four-plus decades of wearing them, the shoe seemed to be on its way out. It was difficult to find, sometimes.

I can remember a time, in this century, when we discovered a store (in Maryland, I think it was) that had the shoe in supply and we bought three pair at once, fearing we may not be able to find them again.

Now, in 2015, the shoe seems to be more popular than ever — if the pedestrians of Paris are an accurate indication.

That’s me, above, with my latest Stan Smiths, while on the Champs Elysees, with the Arc de Triomphe in the background.

At the bottom of this post are two people wearing Stan Smiths, husband and wife, apparently, who were walking along the Champs. A day later, I saw a mother and her junior-high-age kid wearing them.

The curious thing about the Stan Smith is the range of customers it seems to attract.

Old, young, male, female, all sorts of ethnicities.

(I considered carrying a camera and taking pictures of the lower legs of people wearing Stan Smiths, to show the huge variety in pants and sizes and shapes and old and new, but taking pictures of people’s feet might be seen as a bit odd, and I gave up the idea.)

The Stan Smith appears to be more popular in France than anywhere else, perhaps because the early versions of the shoe were made in France, by Adidas, a German company.

If you followed the wiki link, in the first paragraph (above), you will see that the entry on the Stan Smith shoe is … quite lengthy. The list of slightly different models is particularly long. Apparently, too, the Stans have made lots and lots of money for Adidas.

I had forgotten there were years there when the top of the tongue was embossed with Stan Smith’s face. I owned a lot of those, too. Now it mentions only the player’s name, along with “Adidas”, on the tongue. The green bit with the Adidas logo … still behind the heel.

Two more curious things about the Stan Smith.

–It is an awful tennis shoe — in the sense of wearing it while playing the game. I remember doing that, in the 1970s, and the soles of my feet were trashed after a couple of sets. Remember, the Stan Smith was supposed to be a shoe for tennis, and it may even have been as good as any of them, in the 1970s, but no one in his right mind in 2015 would wear Stans while playing sports. They are stiff, the pebbled sole is kinda weird and offers little cushion. For just walking around, fine. But in terms of sports … the Stan Smith suggests you are sporty, just not in these shoes.

–The Stan Smith is difficult to maintain. Wearing a new pair is always a little challenging because they are so white they are almost blinding. Nothing remotely subtle about them. But only a month or two later, they begin to show signs of wear (the white leather is easily scarred) and then it is almost impossible to get them white again. At some point, when they are as close to gray as white, most of us take them out of our shoe rotation.

But people just seem to like the style. And, at the moment, some are suggesting they are popular for being “retro”.

I am glad they are around again. I like the look, I like the idea of “everything in fashion comes around again, eventually” and I’m guessing the current popularity means “availability” for a while longer.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Beckie Manning // Nov 29, 2018 at 5:57 AM

    I was in Paris in September of 2017. I knew nothing of this trend, but noticed the Stan Smith adidas shoe everywhere!

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