The History of the Adidas Samba

Adidas has always been a brand associated with innovation. Did you know they were even responsible for creating the first shower shoes at the request of the German football team? Yet, above all their notable achievements, one of their products has stood out above all else.

Adidas Samba shoes - image for article
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This is the Samba, a favorite of British rock stars, football fans, and US skaters. Below, we give the essential history of the Adidas Samba.

Pre Samba

The Samba came from the desire for a shoe that could be used to play sport on icy pitches. Boots at the time did not afford the required grip, leading to a lack of control and injury. Adidas owner Adi Dassler took it upon himself to develop a shoe that would be durable and hold its own on frozen grounds.

In 1949 a kangaroo leather upper was chosen as the base material. Placed on an innovative gum outsole, it offered protection and the traction required. The prototype Samba was born.

With the 1950 Brazilian World Cup coming up, Adidas decided to unveil their new boot at the sporting event. However, taking place in the South American heat between June and July posed one big problem. The climate was far from the icy European playing fields the shoe was designed for.

To market the shoe to sportsmen in warmer climates, the shoe was named the Samba. Taking on the name of the Brazilian dance and music form made it link to the culture of the country. It worked, with players seeing the shoe as a must-have accessory.

Original Adidas samba shoes were not that different from the ones we know today. They were made from black leather and featured the famous three stripes of Adidas on the side. Gold branding and the brown rubber sole gave them a unique look that had not been seen before.

The Growing Popularity of Adidas Samba Sneakers

After the event, the Samba continued to gain popularity. In 1954 the German football team wore cleated shoes based on a Samba design. It began to bleed into other areas and was soon adapted for football boots and others sports.

By the start of the seventies, five-a-side football was starting to gain popularity. As it was played on hard, indoor surfaces the Samba was a perfect fit. For a long time, it dominated the market until rivals began to enter the fray in the early nineties.

The Adidas Samba in Popular Culture

It was not just in the field of sports that the Samba cemented its place in popular culture. In the seventies and eighties, the trainer had begun to move into the realm of casual wear and get adopted by those who stood watching on the football terraces. They would pair them with parkers and polo shirts, becoming a look in their own right.

On-screen, rock stars such as Freddie Mercury of Queen would wear them. When the nineties arrived, in the UK they became a staple of Britpop bands such as Oasis and Blur.

Samba and Skateboards

Another area of popular culture where they became well respected was in the nineties skateboard scene. With a sleek design, durability, and increased grip, they were perfect for skating. In 2006 the Samba even got its own skater offshoot, the Busentiz, especially for its newfound audience.

Adidas Samba Sizing Guide

Even new Adidas Samba models have a very narrow design, keeping with the retro aesthetic. They are not wide and bulky like modern trainers and high tops. If you have a wide foot then you should go around half a size bigger than your normal fit for Adidas sizes, to also account for the circular toe section.

The samba can be worn with most outfits and look great. While the classic look is to wear it with a Fred Perry polo shirt and sleek jeans, a tracksuit will look just as good. Visit this site to see a whole collection to pair with your next outfit.

The Best Adidas Samba Offshoots

As a great blueprint, there have been numerous modifications and changes to the Samba over the years. Currently, four main models of Samba are available. Of these, the Original and Classic are the most popular and retain a similar look.

The Super has a few modifications which take inspiration from the casual style of the seventies and eighties. This makes them much more suitable for everyday wear than sport. A version known as the Sambarose is also available with a raised platform bottom.

One of the latest variations was the first knitted football boot, the Samba Primeknit. There is also an indoor model which takes more of its styling from the casual version than a sports shoe.


The Adidas Samba has had a lot of celebrity fans, and collaborations have recently been aplenty. One of the most celebrated was that of a partnership with the American actor and comedian Jonah Hill. His design had a deep, vivid color palette influenced by memories of his childhood.

Another collaboration was with Wales Bonner, the menswear brand established by Grace Wales Bonner. The retro look of this fashion house suits the design aesthetic of the Samba perfectly. Their designs for the Samba hark right back to the early shoes, calling on vintage color palettes and materials.

Choosing the Best Adidas Samba for Your Needs

Now you know the history of the Adidas Samba, you can find the right one for your needs. Many people choose to keep a classic version in their wardrobe for all eventualities. However, with so many designs you may go for something a little more individual.

This article is one of many to help you make informed fashion choices. From sneakers to accessories, we can help you look great this season.