Cart is empty

Go to SF Shop

Buyers Guide: Breaking Down the adidas Samba Variations

Adidas Samba
Via: Up There

Over the past few years, the has expanded its presence in the zeitgeist, infiltrating pop culture through collaborations and celebrity endorsements. Initially released in 1949, the soccer-geared silhouette has never been dropped from the Team Trefoil roster. And almost 75 years later, the Samba is still kicking hard. After almost a century in production, the adidas Samba has morphed, finding itself with a swathe of different iterations. From the to the Vegan, here’s a breakdown of the current Samba rotation.

Samba OG

Originally designed in the 1940s to cope with icy football pitches, the Samba is a low profile trainer that would turn out to be a triple threat – the right shoe at the right time at the right price. Overlooked by seasoned sneakerheads but cherished as a cult classic by football casuals and lo-fi skaters, the Samba initially flew under the radar as an everyday beater and wardrobe staple for a small but mighty legion of fans. All that changed when fashion designer brought the Samba to mainstream attention. Her distinctive collaborative pairs kickstarted a wave and before long, OG Samba colourways were on fire everywhere. Alongside Wales Bonner, the Samba served as a muse for , put the ‘sporty’ in Emily Oberg’s and even competed in the Consortium Cup. The OG iteration is where it all started, as it is the classic offering and most common Samba silhouette on the market. Usually, you can find this pair draped in a leather and suede combination with a contrasting gum sole and the classic Three-Stripe branding.

Samba Classic

While the Samba Classic resembles the OG, it features a slew of extra details that make it unique. The Classic was created in 1950 for indoor soccer use, and it has dominated the indoor game for decades since, with recent GR releases a faithful remake of the original design. It boasts an extended tongue that on the field is very functional, as it folds over the laces for a cleaner kick of the ball; however, high-heat collaborators like Grace Wales Bonner and Pharrell Williams have borrowed the extended tongue on their Samba releases for that classic, terrace aesthetic. The synthetic leather upper gives it a shiner look, but the suede overlays are the same as the OG with the T-Toe layout. The Classic also features a larger font for the ‘Samba’ script branding along the lateral and the tongue, and it has a lightweight synthetic build with non-marking, EVA-injected soles for speedy indoor games.

Samba Vegan

The name says it all, really. In response to a growing vegan population and a push for more environmentally conscious products, adidas released the Samba Vegan, which is exactly the same as the Samba OG but of course made entirely with synthetic faux leather and a vegan alternative to suede. Crafted with materials like recycled polyester, organic cotton, and synthetic leather alternatives, these iterations also draw on more sustainable fabrics. The upper is made with a minimum of 50 per cent recycled materials, offering a slightly more environmentally friendly option to a rotation staple. Naturally, the range of colours in the Vegan Samba is more limited than the OG, but on the plus side, it's actually cheaper than the OG iteration, sitting at $100. In addition to the Samba Vegan, adidas have expanded their range of vegan-friendly footwear options, including the Stan Smith, Velosamba and Superstar.


The adidas Velosamba is one of the zaniest iterations on this list, and it's for the cyclists. Up top, it looks like a regular Samba, but underneath the midsole is a recess that fits two-bolt pedal cleats, like the Shimano SPD or the Time ATAC. Additionally, they come with built-in lace bungees that ensure loose lace ends won't get stuck in the chainring teeth or pedal axe. As a bonus, each pair's uppers are made with a minimum 30 per cent natural and renewable materials. The Velosamba has so far largely served utilitarian functions and subsequently delivered no-nonsense colourways, but collaborators like END. and HAL STUDIOS have both included the cycling Samba in their roster, elevating the pairs to something that can be worn après cyclo. The model is the best of both worlds, as it looks like a Samba up top but has all the functional aspects one needs on a bike, meaning the shoes can stay on during the pre-ride espresso and post-ride pint without clopping about like a horse on rollerskates.

Samba Super

The Samba Super was adidas’ answer to the original silhouette morphing from a reliable soccer sneaker to a lifestyle behemoth. This pair is made for the streets instead of the pitch, opting for a chunkier build, a slimmer foam sole at the rear, and an extended outsole at the forefoot. It changes up the signature suede T-Toe, instead building out the toe with the outsole material and keeping the upper all leather.

Samba Rose

There are quite a few differences between a woman and man’s foot, not just in the overall size, but in the structure as well, which is why adidas introduced the Samba Rose in 2018 – a Samba built specifically for women to provide more comfort when compared to the unisex Samba OG. Women often have narrower feet and differing arch structure compared to men, so the Rose addresses both issues with a narrow fit and enhanced arch support via an insole. The upper is also made from softer leather or suede, which adapts more comfortably to the contours of a woman’s foot – this material choice reduces the break-in period and enhances overall comfort. As for aesthetics, Team Trefoil attached a textured platform midsole beneath a classic upper, keeping the OG look while adding a little something extra, and this raised midsole also features the adidas branding. Despite the design changes, it still keeps everything that is loved about the Samba, with a durable outsole that offers traction and breathable construction.

Samba RM

adidas say that the Samba RM aimed to ‘modernise the heritage look’, and it did this by taking the classic silhouette and adding additional comfort and a sleeker, more round look. The Three Stripes gave a BOOST to the soles, providing a more responsive midsole that is slightly higher than the standard. Soft leather uppers stay true to the OG, complementing the bouncy soles with a firm but mouldable fit with the Samba’s signature slim lines. It also comes stamped with extra lateral branding that reads ‘S4M3A’ and a premium suede heel collar. The RM is an alternative for those looking for a staple silhouette with that more comfort and a slight difference to the everyday beaters.

Samba ADV

This ADV edition is an exact copy of the OG Samba, but reinforced for skaters. Back in the 90s, street skaters adopted the low-to-the-ground Samba for its clean profile and functionality, but the Three Stripes wanted to take it one step further by upgrading the T-Toe suede with two layers of Adituff toe reinforcement. This makes them extra durable and able to withstand the hardcore wear and tear that comes from flipping in and out of k-grinds. Usually, the Samba ADV can be found exclusively in skate stores.

Samba Millennium

Originally touching down circa 2009, the hosted then-modernised tech details for indoor football. Their added comfortability and support made these a preferred everyday sneaker for many, until adidas put the silhouette on hiatus. But it's now returned for its 15th anniversary, first in a colab with . The Brooklyn-based menswear gods are known for their tasteful sneaker collaborations, so the Millennium was in safe hands. They reintroduced the model with a creamy toned leather, additional grey suede panels and black Three Stripe branding. Following this colab, adi brought out a in a classic black and white, before topping off the return with a release from the Samba’s champion, . It's unclear whether it will make a continued comeback, but with its versatile upper and extra chunky midsole made with EVA foam, it would make a rounded addition to the permanent Samba line-up.

Samba XLG

The Samba XLG is just the OG Samba, but made thicccc. The design has taken on influences from both football and skateboarding, with the chunky midsole and padded tongue giving the terrace silhouette a skater's steeze. The midsole packs a full-length EVA build for extra comfort, along with a full leather lining. What makes this different from the Samba Rose, which also features the bulked-out midsole, is that the plushness has been added to the full model, rather than just the midsole. It's ideal for those who love the Samba but prefer the chunky styles to the Samba's slim lines.

8th Street Samba

If you told us a decade ago that in the future, brands would be allowing collaborators to completely alter their existing legendary silhouettes – and slap another brand’s logo on the creation – we would call you nuts! However, in 2024, where the sneakersphere is crazy for colabs, this way of linking up has become increasingly common. This way of working is especially present in cases with prolific names in the sneaker industry. Enter and his 8th Street Samba. This iteration of the legendary adidas Samba was created through a three-way collaboration spearheaded by the Kith founder. The designer brought together Team Trefoil and for a never-before-seen variant of the iconic 40s soccer-geared sneaker. The reimagined silhouette was crafted by the trio and takes signature elements from each to create one unified sneaker. Multiple pairs were created, each hosting either an all-suede or alternate suede and leather combo. Down below featured the Clarks addition to the project, with a full-length crepe rubber midsole, iconically featured on the British brand’s most iconic sneakers like the Wallabee. The colourway of each model reeked of Ronnie, who added his simple, elevated touch to each pair. Rounding things out for the 8th Street Samba is the tri-branding hit on the tongue, along with a classic Clarks' swing-tag that also features Fieg branding. This silhouette was more of a one-time deal, so don’t expect the 8th Street initiative to come through with anymore anytime soon.

Samba Deco

One of Team Trefoil’s best kept secrets is their Spezial, aka SPZL, sub-brand. This special adidas arm is run by Three Stripes superfan Gary Aspden, who digs in the German brand’s extensive archive to resurrect older models and sometimes revamping other popular silhouettes. Over the years, Spezial has dabbled with the Samba, crafting ultra-luxe iterations such as the Deco SPZL. This iteration is exactly what it sounds like – a Samba but with plenty of special elements that make it ultra-premium. The main differences between the Deco and the OG are the deco stitch on the T-Toe instead of standard suede overlays. Elsewhere, the edges of each panel have been crinkled in a zig-zag pattern, especially prevalent on the eyestays. The heel mustache has also been extended down further with the SPZL logo scripted proudly across the rear. The Samba Deco SPZL has been released a handful of times over the years, and boasts an elevated suede construction. The finishing touch to this opulent variation is 'Samba SPZL' debossed in a gold foil on the lateral side.

Keep up with all the adidas Samba news here, and find a sizing guide here.

Latest Videos

Subscribe to our Newsletter