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My obsession with the Adidas Samba first began in fifth grade. One of my classmates wore the OG classic in black nearly every day, teamed with a pair of Soffe shorts that were rolled precisely three times at the waist. She always beat the boys at soccer during recess. I admired her fashion sense from a young age, and I think that’s because she wore her outfits with confidence and exuded a certain toughness — especially in her Sambas. It’s possible she was even my very first style crush. Today, retro sneakers are having a resurgence, and that certainly doesn’t exclude the iconic Samba, a low-top with three recognizable stripes, the Trefoil-embossed logo at the heel, and a gum rubber outsole. It was, in fact, created as a versatile soccer shoe by the brand in 1950.
Particularly impressed by the quirkiness of Hadid’s outfit and the bold brilliance of Rihanna’s, I aimed to settle on the answer to an age-old query: how to wear Adidas Sambas.
The celebrity support of the Samba is at an all-time high, with models, Hollywood A-listers, and Rihanna (she deserves her own category, right?) reinventing the wheel when it comes to outfits with a tomboy twist. While pregnant with her first son, RZA, in April 2022, Rihanna updated her maternity wardrobe with a pair of white Samba shoes that offset a navy-blue Alaïa ribbed set. They were played up by pearls and the accents on her Dior Saddle Bag, and complemented by an LAFD trucker hat. That might have been the street style look to spark the cyclical trend — Bella Hadid wore her Sambas in Paris around the same time, taking a dark-academia approach. And Katie Holmes and Hailey Bieber rocked them with denim this past summer, stepping out in New York and LA, respectively.
Seeing as school is back in session — and that’s where my love for Sambas began — it felt like the right time to pick up the sneakers (which start at $90), and take them for a spin. Maybe it’s because the shoes represent my early passion for admiring someone else’s style, but I promptly schemed to re-create the celebrity outfits I’d found. Particularly impressed by the quirkiness of Hadid’s outfit and the bold brilliance of Rihanna’s, I aimed to settle on the answer to an age-old query: how to wear Adidas Sambas.
As it turns out, you don’t have to harbor millions of Instagram followers to wear the shoe in precisely the same way Rihanna, Hadid, Bieber, and Holmes did. All four outfits work for achieving athletic appeal like a fashion girl — it just depends how relaxed, or, conversely, how extra you want to stray. Ahead, I review the original Adidas Samba shoe in the context of each celebrity outfit I tried and ultimately choose a favorite look. Scroll to see — and shop — the pieces cut out for the job.