Beloved by everyone from supermodels and rap royalty to diehard sneakerheads and even your grandad, Adidas' Stan Smith is a ubiquitous footwear classic that, over 50 years since its release, endures as an icon. You know the shoe – with its classic white leather upper, sporty silhouette and kelly green accents – but do you know its story? Scroll on to become properly acquainted with one of the most popular trainers on the planet.

The history of the Stan Smith

The origins of Adidas’ best-selling sneaker can be traced back to the early 1960s, when Horst Dassler, son of Adidas founder Adolf ‘Adi’ Dassler, decided that the brand needed an updated version of the classic court sneaker, which at the time was predominantly crafted from canvas. Horst elected a French tennis player by the name of Robert Haillet as the face of the new sturdy and streamlined sneaker, but when Haillet retired from the sport in 1971, he was in need of a new court champion.

Enter Stan Smith, a young and gifted Californian player who was already a four-time Davis Cup winner and the number one singles player in the world. He was the perfect poster boy for a European company attempting to break into the American market. Although the official name of the shoe wouldn't be changed to Stan Smith until 1978, a picture of his face was emblazoned onto the tongue of the sneakers and history was made.

In the years and decades that followed, the Stan Smith garnered legions of fans, particularly as dress codes relaxed and sportswear became increasingly adopted as casual wear. By 1988, Adidas had sold more than 22 million pairs, earning the shoe a place in the Guinness Book of Records. The sneakers were everywhere: Jay-Z name dropped them on his 2001 album The Blueprint, Céline designer Phoebe Philo took a bow in a pair at her 2011 autumn/winter ready-to-wear show, and in 2013, Gisele Bündchen appeared nude save for a pair of Stan Smiths and socks in an Inez & Vinoodh shoot for French Vogue.

After a two-year break from production that left sneakerheads in despair, the Stan Smith returned from its sabbatical in 2014. Collaborations with the likes of Pharrell Williams, Raf Simmons and Stella McCartney followed, creating a new wave of hype and cementing the Stan Smith as a must-have style staple.

The Stan Smith in 2021

This year, in an effort to become more eco-conscious, Adidas launched a new-and-improved sustainable Stan Smith, overhauling the the classic sneaker using its own PRIMEGREEN high-performance recycled materials, but maintaining its iconic design.

With the goal of completely ditching its virgin plastic use by 2024, Adidas replaced the shoe's virgin polyester material with recycled polyester, also adding recycled rubber outsoles and recycled laces. This shift towards a more sustainable mindset marks a new chapter in the Stan Smith story, and we can't wait to see what else lies in store.

Now, turn your attention to another sneaker icon: the Nike Blazer.