By Tim Newcomb
Stan Smith’s signature has adorned one of the world’s most famous sneakers for nearly 50 years, but the tennis legend’s latest fashion foray lends that signature to a new accessory. Smith partnered with Zurich-based Maurice de Mauriac to create the Stan Smith Signature watch, a step forward in time for the 74-year-old American.
“It was a great idea and I liked their idea of designing,” Smith says about the process. “They wanted to do something special and gave me an opportunity to look at different options of the design of the watch, the size and the look. It was certainly something I had never been involved in before.”
The two-year process to create the Maurice de Mauriac Stan Smith Signature watch culminated with a stainless steel 316L satin finish, sapphire crystal, waterproofing and automatic Swiss movement. Each watch comes with a Natostrap to match the watch colors with 100 each of green, red and blue.
“I wanted to have it resemble a little bit of what the shoe was like with the white and green and my signature has, of course, become a signature I have used for the last 40 to 50 years, so that is unique,” Smith says. “It was exciting to see what it would look like and I’m very excited about the various bands you can use.”
Smith may be best known in fashion for his adidas sneaker, one that was originally sponsored by French tennis player Robert Haillet before the eventual transition to having both Smith’s signature and photo on the shoe, a process that started in 1972, but Smith was about far more than on-court sneakers.
“I wasn’t looking at what I was wearing every time I walked out, but I did look at what was looking good on other people,” he says. “I did look for that. I ended up getting some more formal wear with some good companies that came out with great-looking blazers, slacks and suits. For the casual wear, I’ve always been really interested in what was comfortable.”
While Smith mixed formal wear and a focus on comfort when off the court—he has a strong loyalty to adidas and often sports the German brand’s clothing to this day—his on-court style evolved along with the athletic apparel and footwear company.
“Adidas, of course, had a significant logo of the three stripes, so everything we had at that time was three stripes,” he says about the 1970s. “The track suits were quite identifiable because of the three stripes.” At the time, the ATP had a relationship adidas so players who weren’t under contract with an apparel brand were wearing adidas, giving adidas a massive presence on the tour. While the all-white—even with a powerful display of adidas stripes—dominated the ‘70s,
Smith remembers pastels coming in light blue and light yellow, starting the push toward color. “I loved the different types of colors adidas came out with,” he says. “Then later when the three stripes were banned to a smaller use, adidas came up with some great looks on the court.”
One of Smith’s most recognizable signatures looks to this day is his mustache, even though it didn’t make it on the original Stan Smith shoe’s tongue portrait.
“I’ve worn a mustache since I was probably age 22 and for a period of time, I grew a beard and then shaved everything off,” he says. “It was probably in a year period and that was the time I signed the agreement with adidas and when the photograph was taken. It is kind of ironic that would be the case, but I didn’t think I’d be involved (with adidas) 50 years later. I have gotten so used to the mustache, if I shaved if off now and looked in a mirror, I wouldn’t think I was there anymore.”
Smith wasn’t the only player in the ’70s enamored with a mustache, even if he was one of very few. Australian John Newcombe also created a brand around his mustache, a feature still used on marketing material for his tennis ranch in Texas. And as Smith says, fashion—whether clothing, shoes or facial hair—is cyclical so we’re seeing a resurgence of the mustache on tour now. “
I think the Covid thing has really been the reason for that,” he says. “Guys have been locked down and fooled around with different looks.”
A look that hasn’t changed much in 50 years is one of the top-selling sneakers of all time, the adidas Stan Smith. Smith says he can’t explain exactly why the shoes have resonated so well the world over and for so many years since he isn’t out there buying them—he does remember purchasing a pair in Florence the first time he ever saw them in black—but knows they can be worn with any type of clothing, and the simplistic nature makes them work with multiple styles.
There are so many different iterations of the Stan Smith sneaker, Smith himself can’t even keep up and still runs across designs he didn’t know existed. For his personal style, Smith looks to mix it up, but gravitates toward the black, a classic white with a splash of color and one of his favorites for a long time: blue suede.
His favorite collaborations include creations from Pharrell Williams, Stella McCartney and Raf Simmons, joking that Simmons adding his ‘R’ to the side of the Stan Smith, increasing the value of the sneaker by three times. And adidas shows no sign of slowing the push of the Stan Smith, using the silhouette to lead new sustainability programs, something Smith is proud of and says the shoe still “looks amazing with different materials.”
While Smith wishes he had kept the early pairs of shoes he wore, he has an opportunity with the Maurice de Mauriac Stan Smith Signature watch to hang onto an original.
Enter to Win a Maurice de Mauriac
Stan Smith Prize Package
With our friends at Maurice de Mauriac, we’re giving away a prize package featuring a limited-edition Automatic Classic Stan Smith watch to celebrate Summer. We’ll pick one lucky winner to receive a custom prize package, featuring the rare Automatic Swiss Movement timepiece, a green and white Natotextile strap, rubber strap, a matching key holder, a tennis ball signed by tennis legend Stan Smith and a certificate of authenticity!