Ask anyone who grew up in the ’90s what sneakers they owned during the decade and the Samba is likely to top the list. Paired with Umbros, tie-dye T-shirts, Jansport backpacks and orange slices, the shoes captured a generation’s obsession with after-school recreational soccer.
One didn’t even need to play the sport to wear the Samba and, in retrospect, it’s clear that the shoe (along with its cousin, the Gazelle) was one of the first of its kind to be embraced in a unisex style, paired with the aforementioned tween-age uniform. Unlike the uber-popular Nike Airs of the time — shoes that were designated solely for boys — the Samba was a shoe that middle-school-age girls could wear with a Sporty Spice dose of Girl Power confidence.
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The Millennial obsession for this type of childhood nostalgia is well documented, which is perhaps why Adidas has decided to re-release the iconic sports shoe, available online and in stores on Friday.
The athletic brand stayed true to the shoe’s original design (which first debuted in the 1950s as an indoor soccer model), keeping a full leather upper with contrasting leather tabs and three-stripe details and outfitting the shoe’s distinctive T-toe panel in suede. The shoe is finished with a gold foil “Samba” branding and has the same translucent gum midsole.
While the original style will be available in both men’s and women’s sizing, Adidas is also releasing a women’s-only Samba Rose W (also out June 1) with a softer leather upper, zig-zag stitching on the T-toe and a platform sole — a style that adds yet another ’90s nostalgia element to the mix and doubles down on a Millennial comeback for the shoe.