If you attended January’s Pitti Uomo 87, you could be forgiven for thinking that everyone had, unanimously, decided to forget about sneakers outside of the Adidas Stan Smith. Perhaps it was the sunny January weather, perhaps it was the need to do a lot of walking, but it’s as though every single attendee just said “*******, I need a sneaker, and Stans are seventy-five bucks.” They were everywhere. On everyone. Don’t get me wrong - it’s a great-looking shoe, but being surrounded by an ocean of white-tipped-with-green does make one yearn for a pair of bright yellow skate shoes.
The Stan Smith is by far the most recognizable of Adidas’ multitudinous sneaker styles. And they’ve done a good job with it; encouraging collaborators (and consumers) to treat it as something of a blank canvas has gotten the minimalists, the sneakerheads, and the artistic types - the same ones who were scribbling on Kidrobot’s blank Munnys - to buy into the shape.
We’ve been inundated for almost half a decade now, but Adidas has done its modest best to keep the hype train rolling. Trying to limit the availability of a 75$ sneaker that was released in 1963-4 (it wasn’t until ’71 that it was rebranded as the “Stan Smith”) might seem silly, but in 2012 Adidas temporarily discontinued the shoe in anticipation of a 50th anniversary re-release in 2014. It worked out pretty well - over the last two years, thanks to luxury interpretations and designer collaborations (not to mention fashion-celeb endorsements), the Stan Smith has become fashion’s most ubiquitous sneaker.
Phoebe Philo wasn’t the first woman to wear Stans (this was back in 2010), but she (and the success of Celine as a brand and an image) certainly did her part to popularize the shoe - as did Raf Simons, who not only wears them constantly, but whose ongoing collaborations with Adidas Originals include a 400$ version of the classic green-and-white; the only visible deviation from the original being a perforated “R” as opposed to the trademark three stripes.
Should you desire to floss something less basic, there are plenty of expensive imitators to tickle your fancy. Common Projects has been producing their luxurious adaptation (the “Achilles”) since the company’s inception in 2004; Italian brand Golden Goose is similarly obsessed with refining the classic silhouette. Hedi Slimane’s titanic-of-the-now Saint Laurent offers a variant (alongside their version of Nike’s Air Jordan), and in one of those bizarre moments in which life takes art as its lead, Visvim released its own “dissertation” on the silhouette. The tennis court isn’t a usual source of inspiration for Hiroki Nakamura’s mystical hand-waving, but Visvim’s notice does its own strange part to ensure the shoe’s apotheosis and entrenchment in the annals of American style, as if we hadn’t already done enough. “Remember when it was all about the Stans,” we’ll say five years from now. “Yeah, I got the Vis ones,” your friend will tell you. Considering they’ll sell for 700$, it’s not a shabby business decision.
Now smaller makers produce sleek variants as well; shoes that are meant to be worn with jeans or with trousers. Forum favorites like Kent Wang and Epaulet offer premium-leather sneakers inspired by the Achilles, which was itself inspired by the…well, you see where this is going. Most consumers, however, stick with the Adidas model. For one thing, it’s seventy-five bucks. And yeah, you can’t find much simpler in a sneaker. There aren’t many shoes that are as appealing across gender-lines, either. Girls wear them with skirts, dresses, or trousers, and boys wear them with just about every goddamn thing that they can find.
And my god, for seventy-five American dollars, you can really stock up. Some of the collaborations come in uniform reds or blues, others feature the occasional Yoda face or velcro strap. They’re like Uggs, or Beanie-Babies. Collect every color! This one has a blue heel-counter, in case you want to coordinate with your stockpile of faux-lensed glasses or your Celine Phantom bag. The only limit is your wallet. And the extent of your hipsterism, of course. Perhaps we’re beyond that, though - the Stan Smith’s been around for forty (fifty?) years; even the current glut in the market probably isn’t going to ruin the efficacy of solid design. So buy with confidence, my friends - someday you’ll have a closet full of Adidas shoeboxes to look back on with fond nostalgia, just like you still have those Trapper-Keepers full of Magic: The Gathering cards that are totally worth some cash on eBay.