A few years back I, along with a TV Crew from LFC.TV, visited Robert Wade-Smith at his home in Caldy on the Wirral. We spent a couple of hours in his company interviewing him on his life, from the early beginnings of working for Peter Black in Keighley to opening the Wade Smith Store on Slater Street in 1982 and through to it's demise in 2005. Here is a short excerpt from that interview.
Q) When did you first come to hear about the phenomenon in Liverpool regarding trainers?
A) I was introduced if you like to the Liverpool phenomena as soon as I joined the Top Man concession business. We had twenty concessions around the UK. I was involved in controlling those concessions and driving around the UK for three years, so for one hundred and fifty weeks. Not only was Liverpool the number one for those one hundred and fifty weeks in a row, they were triple the number two and they were doing a third of the whole adidas business for the UK in Top Man Liverpool. They were doing a third of the business out of twenty shops from one shop, so if you like I saw this phenomenal opportunity in Liverpool, it was a micro market, it was unreal really, It wasn’t happening anywhere else in the country the way it was in Liverpool, or even the world quite like it. Particularly as the average price in Liverpool was £30 and the average price of the UK was about £17 at the time. So I was lucky enough to see it from close quarters and that’s what inspired me to start the Wade Smith shop.
Q) Could you just take us back to pre Christmas 1979, just tell us the story about Stan Smiths and the popularity of the Stan Smith trainers back then.
A) Well obviously Stan Smith was the first of the tennis trainers, the breakthrough from the Sambas. So in 1979 it kicked in on the Stan Smith and that was the first big cult. There had been a bit of a fashion thing going on around ‘Kickers’ and a brand named ‘Kios’ that was a copy of Stan Smith. So the Stan Smith was the real thing. Kios were £15 and the Stan Smiths were £20. I think in the Christmas of 1979 we sold something like two thousand pairs of Stan Smith's, so it was the first big cult trainer if you like in the UK.