The Rise of Sambas


Isabelle Steiglehner, Staff Writer

This year, a new white shoe has gained massive popularity, Adidas’ Sambas. But what is it about the Sambas that draws everyone in? 

These in-demand shoes have actually been around for quite a while. When Adidas originally manufactured them in 1949, they were black shoes with three white stripes. Although this was the original color combination, white Sambas with black stripes are hugely popular today. Sambas’ revolutionary gum rubber outsole allowed soccer players to train on icy terrain. In the 1990s, skateboarders discovered that the Sambas’ sole provided amazing traction for landing tricks. It is estimated by AdWeek, that at least 35 million pairs of Sambas have been sold, and that figure will only grow as demand continues to spike.

History teacher Peter Kalajian spoke about his experience with the shoes.“When I played soccer in middle school, the Sambas were my shoe of choice. Because it felt so good to play soccer in them, I even began to wear them off the field.” 

The shoe quickly began to sell out when style icon Bella Hadid left her New York City apartment sporting Sambas last winter. Now, anyone and everyone looking for the next “it” shoe is buying Sambas. Over time Sambas have been relatively affordable, now retailing for $75. The modest price has only added to the craze surrounding the shoe. The original white Sambas are currently sold out in every size from Men’s 4.5 to Men’s 13.5 on the Adidas website. The shoes have become so hard for people to get their hands on that StockX, an online marketplace, began hiking up the soccer shoe’s price into the $200s. 

Audrey Madoff ‘25 explained why she bought into the trend, “Everyone had them, and that made me want to get a pair too. Once I got them, I realized why everyone loved them. They are so comfortable and go with every outfit.”  

“Sambas have the sporty, 2000s look that is currently desired,” said Matthew Renwick ‘25. “When I had Sambas in third grade, I got made fun of, and now everyone I see has a pair, even celebrities.” 

The Sambas tapped into a popularity that is not a new phenomenon. White sneakers have become increasingly popular over the past decades, ever since the tennis shoe became a shoe to wear off the court. Adidas’s Stan Smith white tennis shoe developed in 1965 swept the nation and has sold over 30 million pairs since then.  A couple of years ago, Stan Smiths could be spotted on everyone from 5-year-olds, to middle school girls, to your grandparents. Adidas’s white Superstars gained enormous demand, when, in 2015, they sold 15 million pairs; rival brand, Nike, sells about 10 million pairs of Air Force Ones each year. 

At the end of the day, the craze for the current sought-after white shoe, the Sambas, can be explained by the vast consumer base. Unlike most clothes in the current market, white shoes are marketed to everyone regardless of gender, age, or size.  Part of the appeal of these shoes is their simplicity and their subtle brand identifiers—the Nike swoosh, three black stripes, or a splash of color on the heel. As fashion trends evolve and the popularity of shoe brands fluctuates, one thing is certain: the demand for white sneakers is here to stay.