MATCH POINT: “I’m a shoe salesman now,” quipped Stan Smith, before letting in the crowds that had lined up in front of Colette in Paris to snap up a limited edition of the iconic Adidas sneaker that carries his name. “Credit card or cash,” Smith asked, standing at the cashier of the concept store.
Just a week after Pharrell Williams had customized 10 pairs with quirky hand-drawings, Colette offered 100 iterations of the tennis shoe, this time bearing the store’s signature blue polka dots. Some customers arrived with their own worn-out, dirt-covered pair to have it signed by the affable tennis legend, in town for the French Open.
This story first appeared in the June 6, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Asked about the global fashion phenomenon that the shoes have become, Smith said it was “amazing.” “Back then, when I played in them, they were considered very high-tech. It was the first leather shoe ever made for tennis. Now they’re just lifestyle,” he mused.
The former U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion, who now runs a tennis academy for aspiring talent as well as his own sports events company, suspects the reason for the sneakers’ success is their canvaslike quality. “They are plain, they go with anything, and, look, Pharrell Williams has painted on them,” Smith enthused, shod in the classic himself. “Just a coincidence,” he demurred.
As for Roland Garros, Smith said he’s betting his money on Novak Djokovic. “He beat [Rafael] Nadal two weeks ago in Rome,” he allowed, but then hesitated: “It’s hard to bet against Nadal. He’s the king.”