BIG IMPORTANT NOTE: At post time the vegan options are sold out. But while the Vegan Samba and Superstar are in stock… it appears that maybe adidas has pivoted to a new “Primegreen” version for their Stan Smiths? From adidas:
This pair shows off a fresh redesign as part of adidas’ commitment to use only recycled polyester by 2024. Plus, they have an outsole made from rubber waste add to the classic style.
No Vegan label anymore (must be some animal products in there somewhere?). But that’s big news all the same. Is adidas really phasing out leather? We’ll keep an eye on it. For now though, on with the original review of the Vegans we ordered… before they were sold out and which might be already out of date. Again, this is not, REPEAT NOT a review of the new Primegreen. But instead the Vegan option, which adidas might no longer be making.
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Made with completely animal-free materials (no leathers, no glues/colors with animal derivations), Adidas is breaking out another vegan sneaker remake. After they knocked it out of the park with their vegan-leather Samba sneaker, I was proper chuffed to have a chance to try out their new vegan take on the Stan Smith, perhaps their most iconic sneaker. And having just recently purchased a pair of leather Stans from the recent $36 Nordy sale, you, dear reader, get to reap the benefits of some sweet one-to-one comparison shots. Woo!
I’ll call out each shoe individually in photos, but just for clarity: the blue heel is the leather Stan, and the green heel is the vegan Stan. Got that? Let’s roll.
Can you tell which is which? Vegan on the left, leather on the right.
If the Samba looked and felt just like the real thing, these step that up even another notch. There’s no distracting suede T-toe to snap you back to knowing it’s not an exact match. From the moment you open up the packaging, they look perfect. And to be honest, from a sheer looks perspective, I think these actually look better than the “real” thing. The slight pebbled grain to the vegan Stans is just more visually interesting than the plain, smooth leather on the regular Stan. Nothing wrong with the smoothness of the classic, but hey, I have to call ’em as I see ’em. Very nicely done.
Amazingly, no, these are not a matching pair! Vegan on the left again here, leather on the right.
The “leather” itself is fantastic. It looks to be the same as was used in the Samba – and given how different those two shoe styles are, it’s surprising that it works equally well for both. Tip of the cap to Adidas’s development team for coming up with such a versatile material. There’s a smooth overall look, but close up, the pebbling gives a nice flash of texture. From reviews, it’s also super easy to clean, which is always a big plus when you’re talking white shoes.
Same stuff as the Samba, so once again, just as difficult to truly photo. Great texture and appearance.
With the Samba, I tried a size 9.5, which for a narrower profile, the fit was just fine, if not a touch large. In the Stans, though? When I ordered my leather pair, I went through a number of returns with Nordy to end up with an 8.5. Perhaps the Stan just has a completely different fit than the Samba, but that same 8.5 held up from “classic” to “vegan” Stan. I am a size 8.5 for both the leather and vegan Stan. My advice? Order your normal shoe size AND a size smaller, and return whichever doesn’t work (join their Creators’ Club for free return shipping). The insole is comfortable and provides ample support.
Cloth (vegan) vs. leather (classic) heel pull details. A few small differences like this separate the two.
While the quick ocular pat-down would tell you the two are identical, there are some details that set the two apart. Some are good, some neutral, and some aren’t quite as good. For example, the tongue is unpadded and the tongue loop is a parallel slit on the vegan shoe, while my leather pair have a padded tongue and a fully separate tongue loop. However, mine may be in the minority, as you can see this pair of Adidas Originals on Amazon shares both the unpadded tongue and slit-style tongue loop with its vegan brother. Those unpadded tongues usually indicate an “upgraded” level of leather. So, interesting that they’re applying those choices to a shoe that’s totally leather free.
You’ll also see cloth details around the heel pull, which are again, fully leather on the classic. This change appears intentional, because the Samba had a fully “smooth leather” heel pull. Lastly, the “Stan Smith” logo on the heel is printed on the vegan, but stamped on the classic. And speaking of stamped, the “Adidas Originals Vegan” stamp is barely there, and but a nominal indication that you’re not wearing real leather.
The “Adidas Vegan Originals” stamp is again subtle and minimal. Doesn’t get in the way at all.
What’s the same, though? The soles, the eyelets, the weight, the insole, the silhouette… everything that matters. I mean, could the few differences be deal-breakers for you? Eh, not likely. Overall, they may just be minor cost-cutting effects while they continue to make their way into the vegan market (and no, not that vegan market your Aunt Flowerchild visits on Saturday mornings).
It’s long been accepted that “vegan” leathers are visually and physically inferior to their cowhide siblings, but it’s clear that vegan leather is catching up, big time. Adidas nailed it with this true one-to-one recreation of an icon.