Sneaker Alternatives to the adidas Samba
The adidas Samba is trending on streets and social media algorithms, resulting in constant sold-out status in many regions. To circumvent this, here’s a timely reminder that there are indeed other shoes in the market that serve as fantastic alternatives. Here are some options that suit all price points – while also avoiding looking like another TikTok clone.
Sambas are fairly priced at RRP, but their frequent sold-out status means pairs can ask silly figures on the secondary market. The solution for wallet-conscious consumers is to look at the untapped goldmine that is indoor soccer (aka futsal) shoes. They’re low-profile, have gum soles, and many styles also overlap with that nostalgic look so many are drawn towards. Consider options like the ,Nike Tiempo and PUMA King.
For something slightly different but still in the same vein as the Samba, look to the German Army Trainer. They were produced in overwhelming abundance between the 1970s and early 1990s, so a glut of deadstock (or, at the very worst, lightly used) pairs can be found in thrift shops and army surplus stores throughout Europe. It’s widely believed that adidas originally had the contract to produce this style of shoe for the military, so there’s a compelling historical connection there – something referenced in the BW Army model, which also serves as a good Samba alternative.
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 Busenitz, which also draws on the brand’s football heritage in a similar manner to the Samba. With more padding up top and a much longer tongue (which can be trimmed down), consider the Busenitz a more practical version of the Samba.
There’s also the ‘City Series’ of models such as the Hamburg, Munchen and Berlin. The Handball Spezial also seems to be creeping up quickly as an organic plan B for the Samba. Speaking of Spezial, there’s an array of styles in the namesake line that deliver a combination of deep archival cuts and retconned fusions of wayback designs. Copping them will require a bit more luck and dollars in the bank than the scheduled Samba restocks, though.
The gold standard 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. Fashionistas have been on the Replica tip for years – Samba-seeking sneakerheads can join the cult once they cough up the price of entry.
Staying in the high-end GAT homage is the Hender Scheme MIP-05, which is objectively one of the finest quality takes on the style. The brand’s MO with the MIP (Manual Industrial Products) series is to apply traditional shoemaking techniques and materials to recognisable sneaker silhouettes. Again, the price tag is high, but every dollar is worth the Made In Japan construction, plus the fact that the vegetable-tanned leather will darken and age with use, creating a truly personalised patina. To be fair, adidas Sambas aren’t even in the picture at this point.
Can’t get enough of the adidas Samba? Here’s a buyer’s guide to the different variations of the model.