Adidas Stan Smith Recon: Out of the Box
- Price: $150 MSRP [Currently Sold Out]
- Pros: Classic design, Quality materials for the price
- Cons: Quality of tiers confusing, Constantly modifying details
Five years ago, if you went on most of the men’s fashion forums and asked which classic white sneaker you should buy you would have received one answer – the Adidas Stan Smith. Using google to search reddit, you come up with 63,000 posts mentioning them. While the hype has died down a bit, it’s hard to argue the impact this one sneaker has had.
Originally introduced as a shoe for elite tennis players, the design was a way to market Adidas while still keeping within tennis’ strict rules. The first endorsement for the shoe was actually the French player, Robert Haillet. With Adidas headquartered in Germany and the shoe factory in France, it was an easy choice.
After Haillet’s retirement, Adidas was looking to expand the scope of the brand. The company wanted to get into the American market and thought an up-and-coming player by the name of Stan Smith might be the 2nd endorsement for the shoe.
For years after Smith signed, Haillet’s name remained on the shoe. Even when Smith’s face was added, it still was below the word “Haillet.” It wasn’t until 15 years after the shoe released that it was officially the “Adidas Stan Smith.”
The popularity of the shoe only grew from there. Adidas sold millions of pairs through the 1980’s and 1990’s, and the pace only increased in the new millennium. Over the years, they made small changes: Adding details, removing others; changing the place they were made; etc. There were countless special editions, including a Stan Smith x Stan Smith.
This particular pair is part of the “Recon” line. The Recon line was Adidas’ attempt to find a higher end market for the Stan Smith line, and has an MSRP to match.
Since the Stan Smith became popular, we’ve seen dozens of companies enter this market. The white sneaker look isn’t going away. The question is, are the Stan Smiths still an easy recommendation?
The Stan Smith was among the first clean, all-white sneakers. Almost the entire upper is white leather, with the only hit of color on this pair on the very back of the shoe.
Starting up front, the shoe has a featureless leather toe on a panel sewn directly to the tongue. This flat tongue is one of the things that sets these apart from the regular line, which has a vinyl tongue with thick padding. Embossed near the top is the name of the shoe with a portrait and signature of Stan Smith himself. Criss-crossing over the tongue are a pair of flat, white cotton laces with green tips. Adidas chose a white that is just slightly brighter than the shoe itself for these laces. Unfortunately, these bright laces stand out a bit, and not in a good way.
The laces run through white, metal eyelets located on the shoe’s long quarter panel. This panel features a good amount of stitching, both decorative and functional, but also have a feature that is one of the great stories in sneaker design.
When this shoe was being designed in the 1960s, tennis regulations did not allow for any brand logos on the player’s outfit. The idea was to keep the sport free of advertising, only stitches and perforations were allowed on the shoes. To get around this ban, Adidas used three lines of perforations along the midsole to provide breathability. Of course, these three lines also represented the Adidas “three stripes”, allowing the company to be the first to advertise on a tennis player’s outfit.
Around back, the ankle area features a separate piece of accent leather. Typically this panel is a contrasting color, but on this shoe the panel itself is white. Overlaid on this panel, though, is a thick layer of forest green paint. The color is slightly darker than normal Stan Smith green, and is in a square shape.
Moving inside, the rear of the shoe is lined in a light tan lining, just visible when wearing. This lining runs about ½ way up the shoe, before a white cloth lining takes over. Underneath your foot is a forest green insole with white Adidas branding.
Finishing off the shoe, the outsole comes in the same tan color as the interior lining. The rubber cup sole is sewn on the front half of the shoe, but the stitches stop around the mid foot. A textured pattern is interrupted by the Adidas Originals script and logo near the rear. Underneath, the classic Stan Smith circle pattern is present.
Fit & Comfort:
The Adidas Stan Smith fits slightly larger than most other sneakers. Built on a long and slightly narrow last, the shoe runs about a half size bigger than a Jordan 1 or other Adidas like the ZX-4000. The leather is thicker than a lot of other sneakers, and won’t have much stretch in it. Don’t expect much give in the cup sole either.
You’ll want to make sure your par fits out of the box. I measure an 11.75 D on the brannock device and have these in a 12.5. If my feet were a little narrower, I probably could have gone with a 12, but if they were any wider, I’d definitely want a 13.
Of course, it’s always best to try on a shoe before buying if you can. The Stan Smith Recon should fit the same as any other Stan Smith available at your local sneaker store.
The shoes are not too bad out of the box. The insole is thick and the sole is at least a little soft. I do worry, however, that as the insole compresses it will only be the rubber between you and the ground. Be sure to keep an eye out for a follow up to see how these hold up over time.
As part of the Recon line, this shoe features updated materials throughout. Unlike a lot of sneakers, Adidas decided to use real leather on this pair. This leather is softer and thicker than sneakers that cost 5 or 6 times what most people pay for these. It’s about twice as thick as any of the Jordan Brand shoes I own, and has a tighter grain pattern when you look at the cross section. I should point out that the accent panels on the ankle are made of much thinner material.
This leather is made all the better by the extremely soft leather lining inside the back half of the shoe. It feels like a cheap pigskin glove (though, at this price, I’m sure it’s not real). Combined with the soft insole, wearing these feels like a semi-premium experience.
Of course, this leather isn’t high end. It’s almost certainly not full grain, or even top grain, and still has a plasticky coating on it to hide imperfections. However, considering the price of these and what other brands can charge, this is one of the best value-per-material shoes available.
Elsewhere on the upper, the metal eyelets and laces are exactly what you would expect from a classic sneaker. They don’t feel particularly durable, but should be easy to replace if they do wear out.
The only other part of the shoe, the rubber outsole, seems to be the standard Adidas Stan Smith. I don’t expect this to be too long lasting, the rubber is fairly thin and soft, but it is grippy and comfortable. To be fair, it’s been over a decade since I wore through the sole of a pair of Stan Smiths, and the compound could have changed by now.
Rose Anvil over on YouTube cut a pair of Stan Smiths in half and shows what the inside of one looks like. He does use the lowest tier of Stan Smith, so the upper materials here are different.
Ease of Care:
The one big drawback of using a nicer leather with a thinner coating on it is that these get dirty quickly. Even among other all white these stand out as dirt magnets.
Prior to taking the photos for this review, I wore these shoes for a total of about 20 steps. Even with just that, they already had several spots that would not come clean. For major spots water and a rag will get some of it, but don’t expect these to shine forever no matter what.
On the plus side, unlike most Adidas Stan Smiths, these have a slightly off-white outsole. This should do a better job of hiding dirt than the bright white outsole most models have.
Originally priced at $150 dollars, the Stan Smith recon isn’t exactly cheap at retail. Fortunately, with as many different places that carry the shoe, you can almost always find them for a significant discount.
If you’re looking for this higher end line, one of the best places is the Adidas eBay Store. They typically get anything Adidas doesn’t sell out in the first few months. This gives them a better selection than anyone buy Adidas’ main website. While they don’t have this particular pair, they have one with similar materials and a close colorway here (currently $72). Alternatively, they have a primeknit version (
currently $49 pulled from the adidas store, but available elsewhere), which is another premium choice for a Stan Smith.
You can also find Adidas Stan Smiths at Nordstrom, Foot Locker, Finish Line, Amazon, and more. Personally, I would only look at these places if you have a specific reason to shop there like a gift card or a cash back deal. Most of those sites only carry the lower tiers and will generally cost more than the Adidas eBay store.
The Adidas Stan Smith, and the recon line in particular, are a great value for a shoe. They don’t have the leather of a Quoddy, or the construction of an Alden, but they don’t need to. You could literally buy 5 to 10 pairs of these for the cost of those shoes on sale.
These shoes have leather that is better than 99% of sneakers out there. You don’t need to sit on SNKRs hoping for a W. They are a classic design. What more could you want?
The Adidas Stan Smith has been a classic for over 50 years, and it’s not hard to see why. The quality blows everything else in that price bracket out of the water. At the same time, they are affordable enough that when they inevitably get too dirty to wear, you won’t have to skip rent to replace them.