Depending on your age, the words “Stan Smith” could mean one of a few things. For some of our more mature readers the name will probably evoke images of clean white tennis gear and Grand Slam victories, while those born after the 1970s will be far more likely to recognise Stan Smith as the name of one of the most ubiquitous trainers ever created.

Regardless of which sprung to mind first, they’re both correct. As well as being a hugely successful singles and doubles tennis player, Stan Smith also went on to produce without doubt one of the most popular trainers of all-time. Not bad for a guy who was once described as “too clumsy” to be a ball boy!

But how did this humble, unassuming man from California end up changing the world of sneaker design forever? After he began playing tennis at 16, Smith soon realised he had a natural ability for the game and began to take it seriously thereafter. 9 years later he won the US Open and the following year in 1972 he picked up the biggest prize in all of tennis when he claimed the Wimbledon title.

Following this second Grand Slam win and with spotlight well and truly shining on him, Smith was approached by adidas to be an ambassador for the brand’s new tennis shoe. His agent wanted Smith to be front and centre of any design that featured his name, so the new silhouette was released with not just the words “Stan Smith” emblazoned along the shoe’s lateral, but his face also stitched into the tongue for good measure. His portrait remains part of the sneaker’s design to this day.

Since their initial release over 40-years ago, the silhouette has been the subject of countless collaborations with some of the fashion world’s biggest names, which has undoubtedly helped to propel the Stan Smith forward and ensure it remains fresh and relevant. Chief among those collaborators is Stella McCartney, who has worked with the brand for over a decade and introduced a vegan-friendly rendition of the design a couple of years ago.

The Stan Smith regularly features among lists of the greatest sneakers of all-time, but despite its undeniable success – the shoe has sold over 30 million pairs making it one of the best-selling designs in history – adidas stopped production back in 2011, only to re-introduce the look a few years later due to complaints from angry sneakerheads.

Asked about his opinion on the shoe, Smith claims to be his own biggest fan with a massive collection of around 70 pairs to choose. To us, flexin’ a pair of kicks with your own face on the tongue seems a little weird, but when you’re part-responsible for one of the biggest success stories in sneaker history, you’re entitled to wear whatever the hell you like!

If you’re on the lookout to cop a pair of Stan Smith collabs or for other exclusive new trainers, head over to our resale market now.