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Sick of the Samba? Here Are Some Alternatives

Sick of the Samba? Here are some alternatives

The adidas Samba has been dominating the streets and social media algorithms for the last few years, and some (by some, I mean me) might say for too long. To bring some much needed diversity, here’s some alternatives that are just as good as, or better in some cases, than the omnipresent Samba.

New Balance T500

My personal favourite on this list, the New Balance T500 delivers everything a Samba does but to the next level. The T500 boasts a sleek silhouette, and the upper is covered in premium suede and nubuck in a versatile and elegant colourway. However, the best part has to be the sole. Still stacked with the OG tennis specs, the comfort level is a 10/10 thanks to the polyurethane midsole, countered polyurethane footbed, and arch support on the insole. Despite this upgrade in specs, the price point sits slightly lower than the Samba at $110, and you sure get what you pay for, as the T500 is the ultimate all-rounder.

adidas Handball Spezial

The best place to look for an equivalent alternative to the Samba is within adidas’ own offering. Many models share similar design cues, namely the sole unit, material combination and tongue. One such option in the Three Stripes catalogue is the Handball Spezial, which seems to be creeping up quickly as an organic plan B for the Samba. The model has become a reliable daily driver thanks to its classic colourways, sleek shape, and premium materials. They don’t look all too different from the Sambas, but the difference comes in the shape. The Handball Spezial has a much more pointed toe than the Samba, which has more curvature, and the Samba is much slimmer and lower, especially in the foot opening, than the Handball, making this a good alternative for those who find the Samba too slim for their feet.

Maison Margiela Replica

The high-end alternative to the Samba is the Maison Margiela Replica, aka the GAT. Based on the aforementioned historical standard issue military footwear known as the German Army Trainer (from which the Replica gains its acronym nickname), Margiela’s take on the model shifts production to Italy and bumps its ticket price to at least five times that of the Samba’s. They are wider than a Samba though, so perfect for all those wicked step-sisters trying to jam their wide feet into Cinderella’s sneaker. Fashionistas have been on the Replica tip for years, and Samba-seeking sneakerheads can join the cult once they cough up the price of entry.

Nike Field General

The Nike Field General has made a welcome comeback in 2024, with the first re-launch landing on shelves earlier this year in a crisp white and red iteration. The 1982 turf shoe is set to release in a ‘White Gum’ in the following months, along with a Union LA colab in two colourways. Unlike the original model, the new pairs didn’t come with obvious cleat soles, but instead, the sole mimics cleats in smaller sizes for a seamless look and added traction for the wearer. All the iterations have the same slim and streamlined look as the Samba and also keep the colour palettes versatile and classic. The GR pairs come in as a slightly more affordable option at $100.

adidas BW Army

If you like the style of the Maison Margiela Replica but not the price tag, there is of course the adidas BW Army. Hosting an identical design but constructed of more everyday materials, the BW Army comes in at a cute $120 – a stunning $480 cheaper than the Replicas. The price comes down to the type of leather, with the Replicas using nappa leather opposed to the BW Army's standard leather. The adidas BW Army is the perfect alternative to both the Margiela and the Samba, as it offers all the same design cues, fit, and versatility.

PUMA Palermo

Moving on to the Big Cat with the Palermo, which is similar to the Samba in that it was a popular terrace shoe. It has a very similar shape and overlays to the adi sneaker, but with a wider set upper and slightly thicker midsole. Most iterations of the Palermo have a full suede upper, compared to Samba’s penchant for leather. Similar to the Samba, it comes in a multitude of colourways, both neutral and loud, but it comes in slightly cheaper at $100.

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