Creative Soccer Culture

Why The adidas Samba Strides On As The Epitome Of Football X Fashion

Although its roots are firmly in football, the adidas Samba has transcended the beautiful game over the years thanks to its classic styling and cultural importance, maintaining a presence throughout the last seven decades. Today it’s one of the most in-demand sneakers in the world, and we take a look at just why it remains so relevant, over 70 years after its creation.

In case you hadn’t heard, adidas Samba’s are in. In a big way. Yep, the OG football trainer is in the middle of a resurgence that has seen it propelled to the levels of being labelled an ‘it’ shoe, and one of the most in-demand sneakers in the world. While the Samba has never really gone away in its 70-odd year lifespan (it’s easily adidas’s longest-lasting silhouette) it’s arguably never been as culturally relevant as it is right now. 

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We’re living in a moment where the lines between football and fashion have never been more blurred, the two enjoying a mutually beneficial relationship with each riffing off the other to lead in all-new, exciting directions, and the Samba sits as a very tangible centrepiece in this movement. This is a football shoe, originally created in the late 1940s to provide better grip on icy surfaces, that now finds itself not only on the feet of celebrities and fashion icons alike, but also as the focus of collaborations with designers such as Wales Bonner that have propelled it on to catwalks as part of premium fashion house collections – a far cry from the indoor courts and terraces of the 70s and 80s where it once found prominence.


And it’s in that versatility that you can find the true beauty of the shoe; it’s perhaps the quintessential football x fashion piece, heralding the direction that football culture would take long before a football jersey had even dreamed of venturing away from the pitch. Its popularity and favour in other cultures through the decades was a clear indicator of the influence that the beautiful game could, and eventually would, have.

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Before it was even called the Samba, the shoe was created by Adi Dassler as a football footwear option to offer better traction on frozen pitches – a simple yet functional concept. But with the 1950 World Cup in Brazil on the horizon, a marketing masterstroke saw it branded as the Samba, named after the host nation’s famous dance, and the rest is history, the name sticking forever more as it grew in reputation to take its place alongside the Superstar and Stan Smith as lynchpins in the Three Stripe arsenal.

Further evolution in the 70s found it adopted as a five-a-side staple, and shortly thereafter as an essential in the casual-era wardrobe, while its trademark grippy rubber gum outsole saw it find favour in the skate scene of the 90s. From Bob Marley’s laid back style to the Gallagher brothers’ iconic stage performances and from Jerry Lorenzo declaring them as his sneaker of choice to the sight of Mark Renton’s burgundy Samba-clad feet pounding down the Edinburgh pavements in the opening seconds of Trainspotting, advising the viewer to “Choose Life”; wherever and whenever, it was a shoe that proved it could adapt. Now, it’s once again treading on unfamiliar territory, bridging yet another gap between cultures as it finds its way on to the fashion world’s radar.

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In the same way that the Stan Smith transcended its position on the tennis court, over the years so too did the Samba, breaking away from its footballing origins to venture into new, unknown territories. Its now reaping the rewards of its previous position as the go-to shoe for small-sided football through the 80s and even its skate heritage of the early 90s, with the children of that generation now fully functioning adults, and looking to draw on the nostalgia of their youth.

Collaborations with the likes of Jason Dill, Jonah Hill, Pharrell and Jerry Lorenzo in recent years have seen new life breathed into the Samba, bringing it firmly back into focus for a whole new generation to enjoy.

And it doesn’t just stop there. As a result of collaborations with notable fashion brands like Wales Bonner and Kith, the Samba’s now being sported by some of today’s most fashionable celebrities, such as A$AP Rocky, Rihanna, Hailey Bieber and Bella Hadid, and this in turn has seen it reach a new level of popularity and interest amongst consumers worldwide.

Adapt, survive and thrive – that right there should be the motto of the Samba, as it evolves with the times, embracing new innovation, such as the Primeknit version, while also honouring its heritage as it did so well with its recent Predator OG crossover. And beyond the obvious performance and legacy-related releases, there are also iterations that directly relate to today’s society, with the environmentally-conscious Samba Vegan and the women’s specific Sambarose Extra ensuring that it always remains relevant at any given moment in time. While it currently basks in the spotlight, lapping up the attention it deserves, there’s a comfort in the knowledge that these shoes are absolutely timeless, their position in history well and truly secured. While we'll take Renton's advice in choosing life, we'll also choose a pair of adidas Sambas to go with it: stylish, affordable, and perennial.

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About the Author
Dan Jones

The veteran of the team. It's not the years, it's the mileage. Some of his greatest achievements include playing (and scoring) at Anfield, Goodison and Camp Nou, and he'll happily talk you through all three (in great detail) over a nice cuppa. Specialises in boots and kits and will happily talk you through them (in great detail) over a nice cuppa – although you might need something stronger...

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