Adidas Sambas: What’s the Hype?

The shoe is Adidas’ second-best seller after the Stan Smiths, with an estimate of 35 million pairs sold. Photo by Leila Tselner / SF Foghorn

If you played punch buggy every time you saw the signature three stripes and rubber sole of the Adidas Samba around campus, your friend’s arm would be purple for at least a few days. 

The Samba, created in 1950 for indoor soccer players’ comfort in and out of the game, has a sleek low-top silhouette, gum sole, suede lining around the toe, and the word “Samba” in gold lettering on the outward facing side of the shoe. Although the original black and white is most popular, there are other colorways, like white and red and green and white.

Sophomore psychology major Fania Villareal loves the pair she was gifted for her birthday last month. “They’re an amazing shoe, they’re super comfortable,” she said. “I can wear them every day — with jeans that go over half of my foot, skirts, dresses, shirts, like anything.”

For the past two summers, the Samba has taken over streetwear. Celebrities including A$AP Rocky, Kendall Jenner, Olivia Rodrigo, and Timothee Chalamet have worn them, to name a few. Vogue called the Samba “the it-girl’s favorite sneaker,” as some of fashion’s most influential women, like Rihanna, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajowski were all over summer Pinterest boards rocking their Sambas. These it-girls have made the Samba a signature sneaker of the elevated but basic  “off-duty model” aesthetic, which glamorizes the street style of models when they’re not at work.

Social media can’t get enough of the sneakers. TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube have been flooded with “get ready with me,”  trend analysis, and styling videos. Some make decoration videos where they adorn their Sambas with ribbons, bows, and charms.

“It’s cute when people play around with them. I see people replace laces with ribbon,” said junior psychology major Kamryn Buyco.

Trends throughout this year have revolved around the Samba. “Bloke-core” is an aesthetic that gained traction online last year. The aesthetic juxtaposes sportswear like soccer jerseys with the hyper-feminine frills, ribbons, bows, and skirts of the “coquette” aesthetic, which centers femininity and beauty. The Samba’s sportiness has made it a bloke-core staple. A typical bloke-core outfit consists of a sports jersey paired with a ruffled maxi skirt, accessories like ribbons and hair bows, and Sambas worn over crew socks — extra points if they have ruffles or lace.

“I just think it’s so cute,” said first-year Lana Borrilla, who has Sambas in her closet. “The jersey with the two braids. I love that style.”

The shoes’ comfortability makes it a first choice for people walking around the city. The Samba has become an essential of the “Downtown Girl Aesthetic” which romanticizes life in metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. 

“It’s a functional thing,” said Buyco. “I always do want to wear heels and boots in the city but like I’m walking everywhere. I don’t want to kill my feet”.

While Sambas have recently been recentered in fashion, this isn’t their first time around the block. The shoes were popular in skater communities during the 90’s. As other vintage trends like jean shorts come back around, the Samba’s comeback is no surprise.

Some find the Sambas’ popularity frustrating, comparing it to past trends.

“I just don’t like having things that are super trendy. When too many people have them it’s not really that cute. Like get your own style,” remarked sophomore history major Anna Lo.

“Hating the shoe because it’s popular is not that serious,” said junior psychology major Elijah Casilang. “Even if everyone has it, everyone can make their own looks out of it.”

Because of rapid trend cycling, many wonder if the Samba will rot in the back of closets in a few months as people rush to buy the next hottest look.

“As fast as things get popular, they get thrown under the rug,” said sophomore business analytics major Ina Mamba. “It’s starting to become really oversaturated. It feels like everyone has them, kind of like when the Adidas Superstars were in or the Air Force Ones.”

Senior psychology major Janvi Amin echoed this concern. “I’m kind of worried they’re gonna go out of style in like a year,” she said. “I want to wait a couple months and see if they’re still in style. And then maybe get a pair.”

Others worry that in the era of shoe resale, the Sambas’ price will rise. They currently retail between $90 and $100 on the Adidas website.

“I hope it doesn’t reach the level of Jordans. I think a reason people lean towards Sambas is because Jordans have become so inaccessible due to resale and sneakerhead culture,” said Buyco. 

Like any trend, the Samba has lovers and haters, but the shoe doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere.

“It’s a classic,” said Casilang. “They’re always going to go in and out of fashion culture. But sometimes they’ll be shining their brightest.”

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10 thoughts on “Adidas Sambas: What’s the Hype?

  1. What’s terrible is when the product becomes as popular as the samba has, its prices gets almost doubled. I’ve been buying these shoes for over 15 years. I had no idea about the trend, went to buy my every two years shoes, and they’re over a $100 us. Disgusting. They used to be hard to find and under $65.

  2. Been buying these well before social media or the internet was a thing , yes your parents and grandparents probably had some so you ain’t all that cool lol new gens make me laugh with

  3. Been wearing Adidas since the late 70’s (Country) They fit, are very comfortable and last. Have multiple pair of Sambas, Superstar, Gazelle, Speziel, Rom, Mundial Goal, 1pair of SAMBA LEATHER SHOES (Top grain leather takes LONGER to break in, but wears like IRON!). Not too fashion conscience, but for quality for my $…BIG VALUE for the buck IMHO

  4. I have 2 pairs of Samba
    One white and black stripes and white and red stripes
    I love both of them
    Super comfy and can be worn with any outfits
    My sisters want them too so I bought each one for them

  5. I have the original Samba’s!
    Well maybe not original but I’ve had them for 20 years. 😳
    They’re pretty sweet!!
    With the rising prices I’m wondering if they’re worth anything?? 🤔

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