Year Released: 1971

The Stan Smith is the KRS of tennis shoes. It has existed—consistently and successfully—in its pure form for 47 years. There are a not a lot of shoes that can claim that (Chuck Taylor, Jack Purcell, Keds Champion, any others?). So I don't think there is any debate that this is in the pantheon of the greatest tennis shoes ever. But this is a personal list. In 1986, the Stan Smith was more widespread than Challenger. Yes, it got burn on the block. It also got burn with your mom and dad on weekends. And your mom and dad's mom and dad at the senior citizen tennis classics. And with all of the girls in the schoolyard. For a fiend like me, this shoe was just too widely available. Too many girls wore it. It was too elegant, too streamlined and too clean. Years later, as a grown-ass man, I began to mentally connect the perfs, understand its simple elegance and appreciate it almost as more of a dress shoe than a tennis shoe. I think what got me open was a very similar all black shoe with hard aniline leather called the Official, as well as an all-over green and all-over red pair that King Emz made me aware of. I would have worn those. In fact, when I got my mitts on the PUMA Match in 2005—I can't front—I had those on the brain. At the end of the day, this general upper pattern has appeared on hundreds of tennis shoes. No model has pulled it off as gracefully as the Stan Smith.