Interview with Stan Smith

by Ariel Adams from Ablogtowatch

Ariel Adams (AA): Today the practice of associating a popular athlete with an athletic product is so common it is almost expected. What was that industry like around the time when Adidas originally chose you as the face of their tennis shoes? What did that mean to you professionally at the time?

Stan Smith (Stan): I was one of the first to have a name on a shoe. There were some before, such as Chuck Taylor and Jack Purcell. It seemed like others followed quickly, including Rod Laver and Ilie Năstase. I was very honored to be associated with the great Adidas brand and to be on the first leather tennis shoe with the original tennis player Robert Haillet, who, with Horst Dassler (the son of designer Adi Dassler) created the shoe. After about five years, Haillet’s name was removed from the shoe and only my name, face, and signature has been on the show since about 1978. At the time, Adidas really dominated the athletic shoe market, so it was very special for me to be the face of this product.

AA: Since an image of your face was on a lot of the shoes, you probably started to notice them on people’s feet. I’m sure a lot of those people didn’t play tennis. What was it like for you, emotionally, to start seeing your face being worn by people, and what did it mean to you that a lot of people wanted to look like tennis players even though they were not one?

Stan: The original shoes with my face on them were actually used for tennis and those people knew I was a tennis player. Soon, however, the shoes started to be worn by the average person on the street, and they also, in fact, became a cult shoe for musicians, inner-city kids, preppy kids, models, and athletes. I noticed that the shoes were also popular for people of all ages across a range of colors. “Sneaker freaks” started collecting the shoe in its different color and material forms. When I was playing tennis, it was strange to look down at my shoes and see my name and photograph on them. I also remember losing to a player who was also wearing my shoes and I recall not feeling it was “right” for him to beat me while wearing them. Sometimes, when walking down the street, I would see someone wearing my shoes, and I might attempt to stop them to ask what they thought about the shoes, as I was curious to know.

AA: Zurich-based Maurice de Mauriac produced a wristwatch in honor of the timeless appeal of the Adidas Stan Smith shoes. What was your initial impression about this notion when it was first announced? Now that you have the final product how does it make you feel? Does it give you a newfound appreciation for commemorative timepieces? Do you find it as fashionable as the shoes it was inspired by?

Stan: I was once again honored to be asked by Maurice de Mauriac to be connected with this watch (which I helped design). The Stan Smith Signature watch has a clean look — a lot like the shoes — and I hope it will be received by the market with great interest. The white and green touches on the watch directly relate to the shoes, and of course the signature on the watch is the same as the signature on the shoes.

I like the way the timepiece turned out and enjoy wearing it myself — and as a novice watch-lover, I do feel that it is a timepiece that can be handed down to the next generation. The watch concept is certainly unique and hopefully will have some special memories and feelings associated with it for those who enjoy wearing it like me.

AA: You no doubt have so many memories associated with Adidas, shoes, tennis, white and green as a color combination, and your own professional legacy. What do you want wearers of the Maurice de Mauriac Adidas Stan Smith watch to know or think about when they look at the timepiece on their wrist?

Stan: Hopefully, the wearer of the Stan Smith Signature watches will be reminded about my legacy on the tennis court, as well as the shoes that bear my name. I should remind people that the watch is not associated with Adidas, but rather with my name, and that the watch is visually inspired by the Adidas Stan Smith shoes.

Wearers of the Stan Smith Signature watch might also think of the long association that Stan Smith shoes have had with sports, fashion, music, and pop culture. A great timepiece does the job of reminding the wearer about other things, and I truly believe that is a lot of our contemporary culture is built into this timepiece. Adidas Stan Smith shoes have been around for over 50 years and, hopefully, the watch will be around for that long, as well. I do hope it will be embraced as a special possession by those who own one. Thank you.

The limited edition of 100 pieces represents Stan Smith’s wins in 61 doubles tournaments and 39 singles tournaments. Once again, each of the three colorways of the Maurice de Mauriac Stan Smith Signature watch will be limited to 100 pieces with a price of 2,390 Swiss Francs

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