Adidas Rod Laver history

Stan Smith is a model of leather shoe, the first to be designed for tennis, which was released in 1964 but which would bear this name only from 1974. Following its popularity, Adidas started collaborating in 1970 with Rod Laver, who will be recognized later as one of the best tennis player ever.

Of Australian origin, Rod Laver is the only player ever to complete 2 Grand Slams : in 1962, with the status of amateur, and in 1969 when tennis had shifted to what we call ‘The Open era’. Tournaments were then opened to both amateur and professional players who used to be separated in 2 categories. For those who are not familiar with tennis, The Grand Slam includes the 4 most prestigious tournaments of the regular season which are the Australian Open, Rolland Garros, Wimbledon and the Us Open. Then completing the Grand Slam simply means winning every 4 tournaments during the same year.

Rod Laver will enter the International Hall of Fame in 1981, for being the player to win the most titles in his career (199 in total, record which still stands up to now) and for completing the Grand Slam twice as already mentionned above. When Adidas started to design the shoe, Rod Laver was already over 30. However, he would still design several other protoypes during a few years, especially during his fantastic year 1969. He would then wear them til the
end of his carreer, in 1979.

The shoe, which was created in 1970, has a unique design, at a time where brands sought to establish their reputation by dressing up the champions of sports they sponsor. For once, the shoe doesn’t not the bear the 3 famous stripes of the brand. At that time, the shoe featured actual innovations which would make it remain on top for a dozen years. Its upper is made of mesh for airing purposes, and its toe is reenforced by leather yoke. It also features a double sole, an intermediate and an outer one, both made of polyurethane, to offer the best comfort.

The overall design remains particularly sober : The shoe is almost of plain colour with some touches of green on the sole and around the leather yoke on the heel. The lines, however, remain simple. We can add to this sobriety the absence of logo or any corporate sign which makes it a neutral shoe for the design while inventive thanks to its variety of materials. This would be largely enough to seduce the skaters’ community too, for whom the shoe has now become cult. So much that some brands, usually specialised in skateboarding, have recently proposed their own version of the Rod Laver, among which DQM, or Undefeated who tested the shoe within collaborations with Adidas in 2009. We can also mention HUF who did the same in 2010.

One last detail which I find notable about this model is the rising myth it has created within the Footbag Freestylers community (Footbags are these little balls, stuffed with sand). Apparently, the model has become some kind of symbol of this sport, and you can even find tutorials explaining how to customize your shoe in order to make it fit for Footbag. Here are a couple of examples of this trend, on youtube first, and on this website as well.

The original model was released again this year and is available from the Adidas store, for €80.

Regarding the collaborations models, you will have to dig the internet if you want to get one of these collector pairs of shoes.

[translated by Remington as the “Taco driver”]

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