Adi Dassler was the founder of adidas, however it was his son Horst that revolutionized its sales strategy. So revolutionary that his father sent him away to avoid problems. Family is family, so he was requisitioned to lead adidas from France, not too far away from their headquarters. Adidas France’s mandate was to import from Germany. Buy and resell, that’s it. However, with time adidas France became the real launch pad for the three stripes.
No one told Horst he couldn’t create his own sneakers, so he did with the north American market in mind, while adidas Germany kept ignoring the U.S.’ potential. In 1964 he created his first tennis sneaker made entirely of leather, something he repeated later for basketball with the Superstar. They first named it after Robert Haillet, a French tennis player. Luck would have it that he’d soon back out.
Then came Stan Smith, an american tennis player known for his doubles, who was thrilled with the sneakers made for Robert Haillet. Although he wasn’t one of the greats, he was ideal for breaking into the american market. They took the model designed for Robert Haillet, changed the name, and a new sneaker was born.
Although naming sneakers after a player wasn’t commonplace at the time, adidas was already putting the athlete’s portraits on its tongues, and the Stan Smith was no exception. Stan Smith (the man) wasn’t too used to being the protagonist, and for the photo shoot he arrived without one of his trademarks, his moustache.
This is how one of the most sold models in the history of adidas came to be associated with a player that was far from being one of the greats. And why Stan Smith was immortalized during the only week he chose not to wear a moustache.
You can take home this illustration when you buy one of our adidas Stan Smith. Just enter the SZ9 code in our shopping cart. Follow the rest of our sneakeroots series, in collaboration with the seize9 blog, who brings you the best sneaker stories (in Spanish!).