Why One Type Of Adidas Sneaker Has Stood The Test Of Time

Adidas originally designed Sambas for soccer players, but the shoe has turned into a pop culture phenomenon.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

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In today’s world, popularity often has a direct correlation with newness and rarity. The ruthless logic of hype says the harder it is to get something, the more desirable it is. But when it comes to sneakers, some classics can’t be forgotten like the unassuming Adidas Samba.

Developed over 70 years ago, by Adidas founder Adi Dassler, the shoe was first created to enable professional soccer (football almost everywhere else) players to train on unforgiving icy, hard ground. Its original design featured the classic Adidas stripes, as well as the gold trefoil on the foldable tongue. But they still looked very similar to a pair of bowling shoes.

As time went by, the sneaker evolved into the Samba ’85 and the Samba Millennium with the timeless silhouette everyone loves. The latter version is made without the extended tongue, but classic models of the shoe are still in production. Released under the name Classic M, the original sneaker is sometimes used for training, street play, and various forms of football.

However, Adidas Sambas have reached a higher-end audience outside the sports world. Spotted on the feet of supermodels, the shoes have transitioned into top-tier streetwear, with British Vogue describing them as the “it girl’s favorite trainer.” The Samba’s gritty appeal also turned them into a pop culture staple.

adidas samba
Adidas Samba

Over the years, the Adidas sneaker has made countless appearances in movies and on television. Owen Wilson wore a pair of Adidas Samba K’s throughout 2006’s You, Me, and Dupree. Ashton Kutcher wears Adidas Sambas in the 2010 film Valentine’s Day and on That ’70s Show. And rock legend Freddie Mercury wore Adidas Hercules wrestling boots, similar to white Sambas during 1985’s Live Aid concert.

Additionally, Sambas are thought to be one of Adidas’s consistently best-selling models. But according to Drew Haines, the Merchandising Director of Sneakers and Collectibles at StockX, demand for the shoe increased sharply in June and July. “In the last two months, we’ve seen almost the same number of Samba sales as we did in the prior five months combined,” he told GQ. Although the shoe was sold out of most sizes in its standard Samba models, Adidas declined to comment on exact sales figures.

Adidas recently released a quartet of soft-spiked Sambas made for the golf course. The limited edition is available in four muted, pastel colors. This includes crystal white, halo blue, pulse yellow, and clear pink.

While they may look the same as the classic indoor soccer shoe, the original design has been reimagined specifically for golfers. The soft, 50% recycled upper has the classic Samba T-toe shape and three-stripe design. The shoe has also been reinforced to give the golf-playing wearer the stability needed to support a powerful swing.

The spike-less rubber outsole enhances that stability with its unique and versatile traction pattern, according to Esquire. The latest Adidas Samba officially launched on September 15th via Adidas.com. While they may be marketed for the golf course, the limited edition sneaker will do nicely for a stroll down the street.