“The original pair? They probably don’t smell too good...” Former tennis pro Stan Smith on inspiring an icon and being namechecked by Jay-Z
What’s it like having an iconic shoe named after you?
It’s really two phases: it was the first leather tennis shoe, so that was for performance. Then over the past 20 years it has become a fashion shoe. If you asked a kid on the street that’s wearing the shoe, they wouldn’t necessarily know who I was.
Do you still have your original pair?
No, you would have to spray the house if we had it; it probably wouldn’t smell too good. I have a couple of old pairs that I’ve worn, but nothing that far back.
Have you ever met any celebrity fans of your shoes?
Usher wrote one time that he had my shoe in every colour. And Jay-Z has had my name in a couple of songs he’s written. I think the line was “Chillin’ in my white Stan Smiths”.
Which have been your favourite crazy designs or special editions?
They did a green patent leather special edition with [Romanian former world No1] Ilie Nastase and myself: they had Nastase stitched on one shoe and me on the other, with him serving and me doing a forehand.
Do you keep them freshly boxed or do you have special pairs kept safe?
No, I need to do that. When they had sold eight million, I think it was, I got a pair of bronzed shoes.
Why do you think Stan Smiths have been such a huge success?
Because it’s simple. It doesn’t have any bells and whistles, you can wear it with whatever you want, and hopefully a lot of people can afford it.