If like me you're already approaching middle age, you probably had a pair of these growing up. The Samba silhouette, however, dropped out of favor through the years as people moved on to chunkier or more futuristic kicks. But after several A-Listers—top fashionista Kendall Jenner included—featured these trainers on their social media feeds over the past few months, a whole new generation scrambled to grab a pair, leaving shelves empty as more and more kids discovered its beauty.
Designed in the 1940s to help footballers keep their footing on frozen ground, the sneaker has seen several iterations over the years, although its always retained its basic shape. There’s the OG and classic designs, which you can get in real and Vegan leather. They’re also available in multiple colorways. For this review, we'll look at New York sneaker and streetwear store Kith's take on the Samba.
Opening the box, you're greeted by the aroma of quality leather, something that is missing more and more in recent releases. The upper’s leather isn't exactly buttery soft but is of considerable quality nonetheless. It has that shiny, hardened leather used in most shoes from that era. Further examination of the toebox reveals the pigskin suede, which is the same material used for the three stripes on the sides.
Nothing special on the gum cupsole unit for this collaboration; it’s likely the same one found on all Sambas. White cotton laces (you're given two sets) top the pair. Overall, materials are very nice. You just need to remember the era this was designed for, and the materials pretty much reflect that.
The Samba has always had simple, clean lines, and this collaboration is no exception. Its white, sail, and green colorway scream adidas classic, with only a few Kith labels to differentiate it from a normal Samba—a detail I personally love. For a classic silhouette, you sometimes don’t want distractions ruining the overall vibe. I would've preferred if they had lightened the gumsole from very dark brown to a more tan color, but I guess they did not want to stray too far from the original design.
Now the Samba is what I'd call a "form fitting" sneaker, meaning it generally takes the shape of your feet. This is both good and bad—good if your feet are narrow and generally in proportion to the rest of your body; bad if you've got flat, wide feet, since they makes your tootsies look huge. Also, you're wearing 1950s tech...and walking around in these all day will generally remind you of that. But form over function rules here, and they look fabulous with jeans and boxy outfits. You could also wear these with wide legged pants, with the shoes just slightly peeking out. Depending on your body and foot shape, wearing these with shorts can be a hit or miss IMO.
Depending on its variants and materials, Sambas can range from P5,600 pesos for the Vegan models to over P10,000 for the more premium ones. However, given their popularity, getting your hands on a pair will entail a bit of work. You can't sleep on this. I wouldn’t recommend grabbing one for resale though - Adidas restocks often enough and if you're patient, enterprising, and know where to look, you can grab a pair soon enough.
It’s hard to rate a classic that works so well for many but doesn't work for some. I'd say these are the chocolate vanilla milkshakes you grew up with and love, but stopped drinking only because of what it did to your figure when your metabolism slowed down. That or you also became lactose intolerant.
[An old school sneaker enthusiast, Rhobee Pilares enjoys street fashion, toys, cars, food and the excitement of busy, bustling cities. You can often catch him at coffee shops reading on the latest media trends. IG @rhobeelicious.]
Photos by Rhobee Pilares