The adidas Stan Smith has been the sneaker of the summer, and a portion of the people wearing the '70s tennis sneaker don't have any clue who mustached-man on the tongue is. And that's OK with Stan Smith. In a 2009 interview in Sneaker Freaker, Issue 15, Smith had a candid talk about his sneaker legacy and how the Stan Smith come about. He even admitted that it's natural for new generations to forget about previous legends.
For those unaware, the adidas Stan Smith wasn't always the Stan Smith. It was Robert Haillet's signature tennis sneaker. It was developed by Horst Dassler, the son of adidas founder Adi Dassler, and Haillet. But Smith said, "But for a couple of years there, from '72 to '74, both of our names were on the shoe. My name and pictures were on the tongue and his name was on the side of the shoe."
Taken back by the strangeness of this situation, the interview, Craig E. Burn, asked Smith, "Why did they phase Robert out?"
And Smith answered, "Well, because our agreement was that it was going to be the Stan Smith shoe and not anything else."
But Smith also said in the interview, "They [adidas] really wanted to get into the U.S. market. I was the best player at the time and was a natural fit, so my name went on the shoe in 1972."
It would be safe to assume that there would be negative feelings between Hailett and Smith because of the shoe swap, but when asked, "So was there any tension there?" Smith answered, "Well, not from my point."
As people have forgotten Hailett, Smith knows the same fate has met his career. He said, "My name is there on the shoe, but, in all honesty, if you were to talk to a young person today, a lot of them would not even know who I am. They just know the name on the shoe."
The Stan Smith has seen a resurgence, and to sneakerheads, that's all that matters. Recently, Parisian boutique colette collaborated with adidas on a white-and-polka-dotted Stan Smith, and Smith was in attendance at the sneaker launch. As he opened the doors to the store, a kid tried to race past Smith—not even realizing the namesake of the sneaker he was going to purchase was staring him in the face.
But Smith laughed off the situation and even took the kid's cash at the register. It goes to show, a great sneaker will last—even if the consumer's are unaware of its roots or history.