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Q&A: Why is everyone wearing Stan Smiths?

Q&A: Why is everyone wearing Stan Smiths?

It seems that every other man in London—and maybe one out of three in the country—is wearing Stan Smiths these days. With their round toe and low-rise, slightly retro shape, these shoes are some of the easiest, cheapest understated trainers to wear with most of the clothes in your closet. And while they've been co-opted by guys of every stripe, they've actually been popular for 30-odd years—always a good sign when it comes to clothes.

Photographed: Adidas white trainers (£75)

So why are Stan Smiths everywhere right now? Well, they work perfectly with a certain strain of minimalism—and yet they're not a huge statement. "Stan Smiths are minimal without being try-hard," says Thread stylist Luke McDonald. "So you get all the quality and design of what was originally a high-performance tennis shoe, all the padding and comfort, but none of the pretension. Plus, somehow they have this style that transcends eras: they're old-school and contemporary all at once."

Stan Smiths also belong to the rare breed of trainers that can straddle both formal and casual wear. "They’re very versatile, so you don't really need to think about putting them on," Luke says, pointing to David Beckham, for example, who wears his Stans with both suits and jeans. "They look just as great with a smart pair of trousers and a rollneck as they do with jeans and a tee."

Photographed: Adidas white trainers (£75)

Three caveats. 1) They're not smart enough to go with a tie. 2) You should keep them bright white if you're going to dress them up. 3) Think about replacing them once they begin to lose their shape—you can usually tell by the way the laces tie tighter across the arch of your foot. Other than those few considerations, they're among the simplest shoes to wear. And if nothing else, you might appreciate the connection with a total tennis legend— Stan Smith, now 70, once ranked number one in the world, and a two-time Grand Slam champion, who summed up his rise to success thus: "Experience tells you what to do; confidence allows you to do it."