Skip to content

From the archives 🗃 the history of the adidas Samba

September 11, 2021 9:00 AM
From the archives 🗃 the history of the adidas Samba

Today we want to introduce you to one of the most iconic adidas sneakers of all time, dear community: the adidas Samba! Our story begins on an icy football field more than 70 years ago!

adidas Orignals

The story of the adidas Samba

Today we're telling you the story of the Samba, one of adidas' best-selling shoes. In fact, the Samba is in second place overall, right behind (who knew?) the adidas Stan Smith.

Today, the adidas Samba is not only the second best-selling model, but also a sneaker icon from adidas with a rich history. 

The model was designed in 1949 by none other than adidas founder Adi Dassler. Place of birth: The Adi Dassler adidas sports shoe factory, which was only entered in the commercial register in the same year.

In this very factory, they worked diligently on various sports articles. Among them were shoes that were supposed to support athletes and make them even better. The adidas Samba is part of this mission. This also makes it one of the longest-produced adidas sports shoes today. 

The Samba was originally developed for footballers, or more precisely for playing football on icy surfaces. The idea was to be able to play optimally with the Samba on hard and extra-slippery surfaces. And how? With the rubber sole, which offers perfect grip.

In keeping with the mission, Adi Dassler's sports shoe factory had taken on a problem in the sports world and found a suitable solution.

adidas Originals

The adidas Samba OG

So the adidas Samba was born. A shoe made of kangaroo leather with an innovative rubber sole for good grip. The first version of the Samba had a black leather material, of course with the now famous three stripes of the brand on the side. They were designed in white.

This was accompanied by golden adidas branding, which we still see on many Samba designs today. The light brown rubber sole was not only practical in its features. It was also visually eye-catching and set the Samba apart from other adidas models of the time.

And the name? Samba is probably known to many of you as a dance and music genre, and you're right on the money! A year after the shoe was released, the 1950 World Cup was coming up in Brazil, a country that is very well known for samba and carnival. There, adidas wanted to present their shoe and shortly before the tournament, they decided on the name.

Incidentally, the German national football team also wore cleated shoes similar to the Samba design when they won the 1954 World Cup. Thus, the shoe also laid the foundation for models like the Kaiser 5 and more adidas sneakers and football boots.


adidas Samba Leren

Available at 9 webshops
View all retailers

The samba and its path through society 

So the origins of samba lie in football and it quickly moved from the icy sports fields with the kicks to indoor football.

But also away from football, the Samba conquered the streets of this world as a sneaker in the 70s and 80s. The similar silhouette of the adidas Gazelle was also very popular at the time, and the Samba style was seen a lot in the UK in particular. From football fans to musicians to models and even celebrities, everyone loved wearing the silhouette.

The adidas shoe quickly found its place in the music scene itself, as well as in film. Representatives of Britpop music liked to wear the popular shoes, as did members of bands like Oasis.

The samba has also made guest appearances in films and series. Freddie Mercury also wore a similar model in one of his most famous appearances, which is also shown in the film Bohemian Rhapsody.

In the 1970s, the samba found its way into the sports world and was also worn by many athletes in their free time.

From Samba to Busenitz

In the 90s, it was the skateboarders who discovered the silhouette for themselves. For a long time, the Samba was a common model in skate parks and skate fashion, until adidas designed its own skate shoe in 2006, the Busenitz, which resembled the Samba. The name here comes from Dennis Busenitz, a famous skater.

adidas Samba / Photo Food District
Busenitz / Photo: adidas

Thus, samba went through different styles, cultures and trends in its history and this has not changed until today.

By the way: In 2012, adidas created a Legacy of Craftsmanship collection and designed special adidas Samba models for many of the adidas Brand Ambassadors. One of them was none other than Lionel Messi, who now also has a Samba in his shoe closet: even personalised especially for him.  

The adidas Samba today 

Today, however, the adidas shoe can still be seen a lot in indoor football or futsal and it continues to be popular in other indoor sports. There is also a handball special version in a similar style. Likewise, there is a Velosamba for cycling.

Even in street style and on the streets of this world, the Samba with the characteristic golden lettering on the side is still super popular. The simple and clean design and also the retro vibes, which are currently more popular than ever, still make the sneaker icon a must-have.

Many fans, like me by the way, also like the obvious visual reference to football. In addition, the Samba is very comfortable, can be combined with many things and is always a good idea thanks to its minimalist but robust and timeless design.

Over the years there have also been some collaborations, for example with Jonah Hill, as well as special versions of the samba, such as the Sambarose extra for women or the vegan version. Today, in addition to the OG in black and other classic styles, you can also shop many colourful colorways on the Samba silhouette.

Over time, many similar versions inspired by the Samba have evolved, such as the adidas Tobacco, the City Series or the aforementioned Gazelle.

No end in sight

Fear of Good founder Jerry Lorenzo, who was announced to be working with adidas in 2020, also posted an old picture in January 2021 reminiscing about the Samba silhouette. So maybe we can look forward to more special Samba models in the coming years. Keep an eye on our release calendar.

If you're interested in this special shoe from Herzogenaurach, click on the button. There you will find all the Samba colorways in our sneaker collection along with their prices, sizes and shops, or you can shop directly at adidas. We have also picked out a few special Samba models for you.