Adidas Samba shoes are the trend everyone can wear, according to fashion experts | CNN Underscored (2024)

Some trends catch on like wildfire, as if one day the whole world woke up and decided “yep, we all love this now” — and that seems to be exactly what happened with Adidas Samba shoes. The unisex sneakers have become a cult favorite among fashion aficionados — professional stylists, fashion-minded celebrities and even some of your humble Underscored editors. (I should mention I caved and bought a pair while reporting on this story.)

Ahead, learn from the style experts about why the Samba sneaker is so enduring, how to style it and the best colors to snag it in before they sell out.

These classic white sneakers have truly stood the test of time. These days, you'll spot the sporty style on everyone from top models to star athletes.

What is the Adidas Samba shoe?

The Adidas Samba shoe we’re familiar with today was introduced in 1972 as a sport sneaker optimized for soccer (or football, if you’re being authentic to Adidas’ German roots). However, its origin story actually starts about two decades prior, in 1950. The first iteration was designed with three outsole suction cups that provided ideal traction for snowy and icy fields. It got the nickname “Samba,” which clearly stuck. Those three divots are still on the soles of Adidas Samba sneakers today. And even though you’re more likely to spot them on city streets these days, they’re also preferred for indoor soccer and skateboarding thanks to their grip and agility.

Adidas Related article 4 of the best white sneakers that won’t get ruined after a day

Why is the Adidas Samba so popular?

It isn’t the first time we’ve seen an Adidas athletic style become the “It” shoe of the season (remember Stan Smiths?), so what makes the Adidas Samba so popular right now?

Across the board, the stylists and fashion insiders we spoke to summed it up to one feature: versatility.

“Not only are they insanely comfortable to walk in but Sambas come in a plethora of different colorways, making them the perfect shoe for someone looking for a versatile option,” says fashion writer Belle Bakst.

“That effortless but put-together look that is still comfortable is something we all want to obtain, especially on our days off,” adds Chicago-based stylistKatie Schuppler. She also notes that the enduring style is a throwback, and this nostalgia connected with other style experts too.

“For me, wearing my Adidas sneakers, and in particular the Samba silhouette, brings me back to childhood and getting matching colorways with my cousins, because we were all trying to feel like some of our favorite soccer players and everyone had a Samba on in their day to day lives,” shares Kevin Ponce, digital managing editor of V Magazine. “They stand out because it’s hard to knock something that has been a quiet staple in lots of people’s wardrobes since their debut. You see them on anyone from rockstars to influencers, and yet, it’s never really tiring — sort of like a plain white T-shirt, it’s just a classic at this point.”

Another main factor is the price — the original version is $100 and at plenty of retailers from Dick’s Sporting Goods to Nordstrom. “The price point is super accessible, which allows everyone to play into the trend,” says Benjamin Almeter, founder and managing director of Dispatch, who owns three pairs. “[Adidas’] limitless collaborations and colorways allow you to find something somewhat unique that you can make your own.”

Adidas Samba shoes are the trend everyone can wear, according to fashion experts | CNN Underscored (3)

How to style an outfit with the Samba shoe

Celebrity stylist Ron Hartleben, who also owns three pairs, says Adidas Samba shoes go with virtually everything and calls them “a more grown up Vans Authentic.” And compared to the squeaky white Stan Smiths, “the slim shape of the Samba makes it chic and less noticeable in a way,” he explains. They can fly under-the-radar and pair with your jeans and tee or even a dressier ensemble.

“The slimmer profile works just as well with a trouser in the winter as it does with a slip skirt or midi dress when it warms up,” says Lauren Black, a digital marketing manager of a contemporary fashion brand. “I love how that they can elevate any basic outfit formula with a nod to what’s trending.”

Schuppler credits the street style of it-girls like Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Kaia Gerber and Hailey Bieber as well as timeless trendsetters like Sienna Miller and Rihanna for the amplified resurgence around the sneaker. Just look to these celebrities (and plenty more) for style inspiration, but however you wear them, you really can’t go wrong.

Our favorite Adidas Samba shoes

It doesn't get more classic than black and white. Black says her first pair of Sambas were in the Core Black color, which she says are "admittedly a little harder to style but do add extra edge."

Nikita Charuza, a fashion and beauty editor and the founder ofSquigs, owns the Samba OG in thecurrently sold-out Collegiate Green color, but we found this hard-to-come-by suede alternative too.

"My husband actually got them for our anniversary because I had been talking about them for months on end," she says. "I usually don’t opt for color but the forest green hue matches everything. I wore [the shoes] to a panel with a fancy dress in the morning and with sweats to the airport at night."

Black also loves her scarlet-striped Sambas for a pop of color. The subtle red, white and blue coordination gives them a classic feel.

"The build up around [the Samba's] resurgence has been burning low and slow over the last few years and seems to be propelled by exciting collaborations," says Almeter.

Take these co-branded Adidas x Sporty & Rich Samba shoes that Ponce loves. They put a luxe spin on the original design, with the three-stripe insignia in burgundy suede and Sporty & Rich in gold lettering.

Almeter is right, a big part of the hype around Samba sneakers are the collaborations and limited runs of certain colors. He snagged a pair of the Mexico National Team Edition Sambas — but this dark green striped version offers a similar look and it's not sold out (yet).

Along with his classic white with black stripe and white with green stripe pairs, Hartleben also has this exclusive neutral color combination. While it's currently sold out, you can go for a low-key look with the monochrome sand-colored version too.

The classic style is for the kids too. Available in children's and grade school sizes, why not coordinate with the whole family?

And a pro tip: many of the boys' grade school sizes are equivalent to women's shoe sizes, so if your favorite color is sold out, check the boys' section. For example, the pair I ordered were a boys' size 5 (I'm a women's 7) and they fit like a glove. You'll save some money this way too.

Adidas Samba shoes are the trend everyone can wear, according to fashion experts | CNN Underscored (2024)


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