Fair or unfair? UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak lambasted for wearing Adidas Sambas

Sunak probably didn’t expect his choice of footwear to cause quite the stir.
Rishi Sunak Launches Expansion Of Community Diagnostic Health Checks
Rishi Sunak Launches Expansion Of Community Diagnostic Health Checks / Leon Neal/GettyImages

In a recent interview at his 10 Downing Street residence, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was spotted wearing a popular set of sneakers on his feet. Still, social media and fashion enthusiasts were not pleased with his appearance.

Sunak wore a white button-up shirt, navy dress pants, and a pair of the “Cloud White/ Core Black/Clear Granite” classic Adidas Sambas to round out the look. However, Sunak's decision to opt for a casual look during the interview, which focused on the government's tax policies, drew intense criticism from many.

The Sambas have long been an iconic model for the German sportswear brand, as its vintage roots can be traced back to 1950. In recent years, the sneaker has been picking up steam amongst some of Hollywood's hottest stars, for both men and women alike. In turn, seeing some of Hollywood's elite rocking the Samba look has garnered the shoe a lot of traction amongst regular folk and streetwear enthusiasts, especially given the shoe's relatively affordable price tag (trends around $100 or so).

Thus, Sunak's alleged efforts to look 'trendy' and 'hip' had people bashing him on various platforms. Facing immense backlash, Sunak chuckled in his "Fulsome apology" to the "Samba community" after appearing on the LBC Radio program. Why would Sunak have to issue a heartfelt apology anyway? The man is entitled to wear whatever he pleases.

This appears to be a classic scenario where an older relative, be it your dad, uncle, or anyone else, wears something that seems far beyond their age bracket, prompting ridicule from others. Admittedly, it's a bit humorous. However, Sunak isn't in his 60s or even his 50s; he's 43, which is still relatively young to sport a trendy pair of trainers like the Adidas Sambas. As Sunak himself expressed:

"(laughs) In my defense, I would say I have been wearing Adidas trainers and Sambas and others in facts for many, many years. Actually the first pair, my brother got for me many, many years ago... I got my first pair of fun Adidas trainers as a Christmas present, and I haven't looked back since. So, I've been a long devotee... But that pair [Sambas] I did buy."

Rishi Sunak via LBC Radio

One could make the argument that Sunak's position as a powerful leader means he should opt for a more formal look. There is some validity to this argument, however, it seems anytime a leader does choose to wear a trendier set of kicks, it picks up a lot of polarizing social media buzz. It happened recently with President Joe Biden and his boaty-looking HOKA sneakers.

Overall, if there's one lesson Sunak has gleaned from this experience, it's that clothing and footwear choices, especially for men in positions of power, will inevitably attract criticism. Whether this criticism is warranted is debatable, but Sunak evidently found humor in the situation and feels justified in continuing to wear Adidas trainers as he stated. However, he should be ready to face any ensuing backlash.

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