Sneakers
From the ground up

Meet Tommy, aka @fysikern, the Swedish Stan Smith fan with over 200 pairs in his collection.

The adidas Stan Smith is one of the most beloved sneaker silhouettes of all time, worn by people of all walks and ages. Whether you’re a discerning fashionista wearing Raf Simons’ luxe take on the silhouette, or a suburban dad shopping at the local strip mall, the Stan Smith is one of the most wearable sneaker models on the market.

Although it first released in the early ’70s, adidas recently updated the Stan Smith with contemporary technology like Boost and Primeknit, adding another chapter to the shoe’s legacy. But even as younger sneakerheads may be discovering new versions of what has been called the best-selling tennis shoe of all time, Tommy has been enjoying the Stan Smith for decades.

Check out our conversation in full below.

First, why do you love the Stan Smith so much?

Well, I often get asked this question, and as usual, it’s quite difficult to explain exactly why you love certain things. I guess that I find the adidas Stan Smith beautiful. It’s classic, clean and simple – you could say it just attracts my eyes. In addition, it is the most iconic and comfortable sneaker that I know.

How big is your collection? When did you start collecting?

My adidas Stan Smith collection contains 211 pairs to date. I probably have the world’s largest private collection of Stan Smiths, in fact, I have an Excel spreadsheet in order to keep track of all the pairs.

I saw the adidas Stan Smith for the first time in the middle of the ’80s, it must have been around 1985. It was this cool guy in my class that got himself a pair, and my teacher, who was a woman, also had a well-worn pair. Already at that time, these two were speaking of the glory of the adidas Stan Smith.

I bought my first sneakers in 1998 – a pair of Nike Tennis Classic, since I actually thought that they were softer. This sneaker was my favorite sneaker for a long time. Then I bought my first pair of Stan Smiths in 1990, but I never used them. Then, in 1993 for my 20th birthday, I got my first ”real” pair from from my parents, and my interest really started to grow. After that, I have always been wearing them.

Before and around 1993, the adidas Stan Smith was extremely popular in Sweden, and nearly every guy that I knew wore either those or the Nike Tennis Classic, those were the days in Sweden. After that, the sneaker market exploded, and there were also many other sneakers.

However, I would say that both these sneakers (and nowadays mostly the Stan Smith) have stayed very popular in Sweden. I don’t really think there is a day when I do not see a guy here in Stockholm wearing the adidas Stan Smith.

What did you think when the Stan Smith was reintroduced a few years ago, then became massively popular?

I was really excited when I heard they were going to be reintroduced! Actually, I think that they were reintroduced in the beginning of 2014 or at some selected places already at the end of 2013. I also like that the Stan Smith has become massively popular.

Nowadays, when I go out of my house in Stockholm, I immediately spot someone with Stan Smiths, and age does not matter – both young and old people wear them. I hope that the trend will continue for some time! The trend is also worldwide – wherever I go, from Stockholm to any other city, the situation is the same, people like them everywhere.

What are your favorite Stan Smiths? Do you have any specific collaborations than mean the most to you?

Well, I still have every pair of Stan Smiths I’ve ever purchased, but my favorites pairs are the classic white and green “Made in France” with the classic tongue logo of Stan Smith without a mustache. But I also have pairs made in other original places like Morocco, Czechoslovakia, CSFR, Spain and Portugal. To have a “Made in France” pair is a must for true collectors, at least if you ask me. My oldest pair is from 1977, which has the old tongue logo with a different portrait of Stan Smith. Please see the Wikipedia page: adidas Stan Smith, which I have been editing for some time, for more information on the adidas Stan Smith.

Now, since 2014, Stan Smiths are made in China and India, but I like the current versions better than when they were made in Vietnam (2001–2002) and Indonesia (2007), except for the adidas Stan Smith 80s that were made in Indonesia (2008–2010). I was also not a fan of versions from China around 1997.

As for the versions made since 2014, I must admit that I like the classic Stan Smith with thick tongues in white and green (M20324) the most. This is the model that I wear mostly every day, both at work and in my spare time.

In fact, the collaborations don’t mean as much to me as the original Stan Smith, but some of my favorites include releases with mastermind JAPAN, Bedwin & the Heartbreakers, and Pharrell Williams. Limited edition models like the “Cracked” and “24k Gold” are also nice.

What do you think about the luxe, Raf Simons Stan Smith? Or the Primeknit and Boost versions?

Personally, I don’t like the Raf Simons versions too much. Replacing the perforated three stripes with the “R” is cool, but it’s not my taste. In addition, I think they’re far too expensive. I also don’t love the Primeknit Stan Smith, I think they become too dirty too fast. However, I do like the new Boost version – now I can even play sports wearing Stan Smiths!

Where do you buy all your Stan Smiths?

Many different places. For collector’s items such as vintage Stan Smiths, I mainly use eBay, and for new releases and collaborations, I get them from ordinary shops such as adidas Originals, Caliroots, and Sneakersnstuff, as well as on many other online stores.

Do you collect anything else?

When I was younger, I used to collect stamps, but I stopped doing that. Maybe I should have continued with that since stamps are much smaller than a pair of sneakers. At the moment, I do not collect anything else, except I have a lot of books, but I would not call that collecting.

If you ever met Stan Smith, what would you say?

I have not thought about that. Actually, I met the King of Sweden some weeks ago, and I had not planned what to say then either. If you plan too much, it does not become natural. I have heard that Stan Smith is a really nice person. However, I have actually no special wishes to meet Stan Smith, but if we do, I guess I have to inform him that I probably have more Stan Smiths than him.

Now check out our recent op-ed, which asks whether adidas is using Boost technology too much.

  • Photography: Ollie Nordh / Highsnobiety.com
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