Who Is Stan Smith, The Man Behind The Fashion World's Favorite Sneaker?

The name Stan Smith automatically brings to mind the white Adidas tennis shoes that are the classic sporty staple of the fashion set. The white leather sneakers have been around since the 1960s, but a lot of people might still wonder, who is Stan Smith and why is one of the world's most iconic pairs of shoes named after him?

It turns out Stan Smith is real, and it makes sense why there's a pair of tennis shoes named after him — he was, at one point, a relatively well-known tennis player. His path to Adidas fame is a little unconventional though. In 1972, Smith played, and won, Wimbledon, the British leg of tennis' Grand Slam. It was an unusual year for the sport, because some of tennis' top players weren't allowed to play in that year's tournament (for reasons we non-tennis playing people probably don't need to know). Smith beat Ilie Nastase in five seats to win the tournament.

At one point, Smith was ranked World No. 1 in tennis as well, but he's by no means a household name. The 68-year-old Smith now co-owns a tennis center on Hilton Head Island in South Carolina, but his name is on the lips of fashion insiders around the world as Stan Smiths experience a resurgence in popularity.

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After he won Wimbledon in 1972, Adidas approached Stan Smith about endorsing its classic white tennis shoes, which were at the time known as Haillets. When the shoes were introduced in the 1960s, they were named after fashionable French tennis player Robert Haillet. The brand thought the shoes needed an updated name, and they landed on Stan Smith.

Now, more than 40 years later, the shoes are gaining prominence in the fashion industry. Pharrell designed a collection of the shoes for Adidas, and Gisele Bundchen even appeared in a Vogue Paris issue wearing them (and her birthday suit).

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Vice wrote an article about the shoes and their inexplicable popularity in May, and a 15-year-old French fashion blogger even posted a video of all the ways she styles her Stan Smiths.

The classic white style of the shoe goes with everything, so it's no wonder they're growing in popularity. Either way, it's good to finally have the answer to my questions about the real Stan Smith.

Images: @adidasoriginals/Instagram