The Adidas Samba Has Quietly Become the Sneaker of Hollywood's Elite

A pair of Adidas Sambas on foot in Paris
A pair of Adidas Sambas on foot in Paris / Edward Berthelot/GettyImages

The sneakerhead community might have their eyes trained on Nike and its newest releases, but something is happening quietly for Adidas. The famed Adidas Samba is having a moment. Celebrities like Katie Holmes, Bella Hadid, and Emily Ratajkowski have all been spotted sporting Sambas, the traditional soccer sneaker, this summer. While the shoes are the trainers of choice for Hollywood's elite ladies tooling around town, they have a much longer (and athletic) history. 

The Adidas Sambas were developed for soccer training 

Adidas as a brand was first founded in 1949, and the Samba was basically there from the start. According to Sneaker News, the Samba was designed by Adi Dassler, the company's founder. Dassler's goal was to create a shoe that offered the traction needed for soccer players (or football, depending on where you are in the world) to practice outdoors during the winter months. The Samba of the 1940s and 1950s looks absolutely nothing like the Adidas Samba that soccer stars and Hollywood's elite slip on today, though. 

Instead of a simple, low top with a grippy bottom, the original Samba design was a more structured mid-top. The gum bottom Sambas became famous for wasn't featured on the original shoe, either. Over time, the sneakers were altered to fit different demographics' athletic needs and aesthetic preferences. 

The Samba, in its current iteration, infiltrated skateparks and indoor youth soccer clubs. Though, it is important to note the original Adidas Samba is not and has never been a skate shoe. Still, Adidas has skaters covered. According to Sneaker Freaker, the Samba ADV, released in 2017, is specifically designed to provide skateboarders with the durability they crave while maintaining the look of the Samba. 

Adidas Sambas has a long history in Hollywood, too 

The sneakers were originally designed for athletes, but people started wearing the kicks as a lifestyle shoe sometime in the 1970s. They have fallen in and out of favor as fashion trends change and morph, but it seems that Sambas experience an uptick in popularity when they appear on the feet of famous TV and movie characters. In many ways, the shoe's rise in popularity can be attributed to the use of the model in movies and television shows. 

Street Style - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear Spring/Summer 2024 : Day Three
Red Adidas Samba sneakers seen during Paris Fashion Weeks / Jeremy Moeller/GettyImages

While Sambas have been worn by plenty of TV and movie characters, the sneakers' first truly famous film appearance came in the 1980s flick Beverly Hills Cop. Eddie Murphy's character, Axel Foley, wore the sneakers throughout the action movie. Kelso in That 70s Show, portrayed by Ashton Kutcher, also wore Sambas. Characters in Entourage, Trainspotting, Remember the Titans, and You, Me, and Dupree all rocked the understated sneaker model. 

It's hard to say exactly what led the women of Hollywood to adopt the sneaker as their preferred everyday shoe, but the trend doesn't seem to be going anywhere. That's good news for anyone looking to recreate celebrity looks that feature Sambas. Not only are the sneakers easy to find, they are affordable and pretty comfortable, too.