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Best adidas samba alternatives 2

8 Best Adidas Samba Alternatives


Since we first published our article on the adidas Samba trend, the sneaker has become one of the most popular shoes on the planet. In two years, it became an overnight must-have thanks to clever social media marketing, and now, with the shoe easier to purchase, you can walk through any major city and spot a pair on the feet of some stylish person. They’ve become one of our favourite footwear pieces for men and women, bringing together a comfortable low-cut silhouette with a retro-modern style that seems to pair with everything. Originally an indoor soccer shoe, it single-handedly turned the fortunes of adidas around in the post-Kanye West era. However, not everyone wants to hop on board the trend train, so we’ve rounded up some great alternatives below.

Best Adidas Samba Alternatives at a Glance

Highlights from our list include the following options:

Now you’ve seen our favourites, let’s check out the complete list.

RELATED: These are the best sneakers for men right now.

New balance rc42 1
New Balance RC42 | Image: New Balance

1. New Balance RC42

Price: from AU$170

  • Pros: More comfortable, cheaper, and high-quality than the adidas Samba. There’s a lot to like about the low-cut and minimalist silhouette of the New Balance RC42.
  • Cons: The tongue takes some breaking in due to the length and size.

Simply put, the New Balance RC42 is the best adidas Samba alternative. It uses an eerily similar low-cut silhouette that takes inspiration from indoor soccer, just like the Samba. There’s also the same leather and suede materials on the upper, and it is finished off by a gum outsole. Where the Samba doesn’t have a traditional midsole, the RC42 has a contrasting white hit across the middle. This detail adds style and comfort with a large cushion across your footbed, and we prefer the look overall, including the large New Balance logo. We’ve been wearing these since release, and they’re a slight improvement on the comfort of the Samba, albeit with a unique design that will stand out. Best of all, they’re more affordable too.

Nike field general 82
Nike Field General ’82 in White/Gum | Image: Supplied

2. Nike Field General ’82

Price: from AU$160

  • Pros: This is a stand-out silhouette with comfort, style, and fashion at the forefront of its design. If you want to get ahead of the curve, wear these. They are better-looking than the squared-off and Vans-like Nike Killshot 2.
  • Cons: Hard to find in-store, limited colourways.

Of course, it didn’t take long for Nike to develop a Swoosh-laden alternative to the adidas Samba. They jumped back in the archives to resurrect a 1982 American Football-inspired release called the Nike Field General, which combines leather and ballistic nylon on a low-cut silhouette, much like the Samba. There’s no suede detailing here, but the gum outsole is prominent, and the leather panelling around the toebox and heel is certainly football-inspired. Depending on the colourway, the Swoosh logo will be finished in leather or suede, but we prefer this White/Gum colourway we’ve featured above. Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the midsole is a one-to-one remake of the original.

New balance t500
New Balance T500 in Reflection and White/Light Arctic Grey | Image: Supplied

3. New Balance T500

Price: from AU$180

  • Pros: Comfortable and offering premium materials at an affordable price point, unique and stylish.
  • Cons: Suede upper is prone to dirt, water, and mud which doesn’t make them great for daily wear.

While some of the most popular New Balance sneakers have been inspired by basketball, the T500 is a tennis-inspired silhouette that is the brand’s closest alternative to the Adidas Samba. Expect typical New Balance levels of detail here, with a pigskin suede upper and nubuck construction that goes above and beyond the quality of the Samba OG. You’ll love the detailing on the perforated toebox, which gives a premium take on the familiar look. At the same time, the white colourway we’ve selected is very wearable, perfectly paired with jeans, chinos, cargo pants, and shorts during the summer.

Adidas handball spezial
adidas Handball Spezial in White | Image: Supplied

4. adidas Handball Spezial

Price: from AU$170

  • Pros: Closest in design to the adidas Samba OG with the clear colourway inspiration. More comfortable, more unique, and stands out.
  • Cons: Clear take-down colourway on a vintage aesthetic, not for everybody if you’re looking for a completely different look.

If there’s a brand that knows how to create a great alternative to the adidas Samba, it’s adidas. They’ve taken the classic adidas Handball Spezial and ‘Samba-fied’ it with similar suede panelling on the leather toebox, a gum outsole, contrast white and black three-stripe logos, and gold foil ‘Spezial’ logos on the upper. These are a great option if you’re looking to stand out amongst the sea of samba with enough differences to leave people wondering what it is you’re wearing. Of course, with the rise in popularity, they’ve become a little harder to acquire, but we’ve included some links below to help you find a pair.

Puma palermo
Puma Palermo in White/Vapor and Gray/Gum | Image: Supplied

5. Puma Palermo

Price: from AU$150

  • Pros: The German Army Trainer design is a classic, but it adds a retro-modern touch. It is comfortable, made of premium materials, and affordable.
  • Cons: Premium suede is prone to dirt, water, and mud, limiting its wearability.

Sitting somewhere between the classic Maison Margiela German Army Trainer and adidas’ own BW Army Shoes, the Puma Palermo terrace shoe takes a page from the Samba with a gum outsole, suede panelling over a white leather upper, and key details in contrasting black. Puma had previously been quiet with its archival efforts but has blown up more recently with this release and the Puma Speedcat OG, which sold out quickly after release.

Onitsuka tiger gsm
Onitsuka Tiger GSM in Cream/Black | Image: Supplied

6. Onitsuka Tiger GSM

Price: from AU$150

  • Pros: Premium, unique option at an affordable price point. Better suited to older gents.
  • Cons: Hard to find in a ‘Samba-like’ colourway, most are plain all white leather with coloured accents.

Under the umbrella of the ASICS company, Onitsuka Tiger, like adidas, Puma, and Nike, has been jumping back in the archives to find 1980s classics. Most recently, the re-release of the Mexico 66 garnered attention, but it’s the Adidas Samba alternative called the GSM – or Game, Set, Match – that we want to divert your attention to here. Now available with a gum outsole and suede panelling on the leather toebox, these are clearly Samba-inspired. That said, they have their tennis-inspired silhouette, similar to the New Balance T500. These are very wearable, and we’d recommend pairing them with just about everything in your wardrobe.

Veja volley
VEJA Volley in White/Beige and Chocolate Brown | Image: Supplied

7. VEJA Volley

Price: from AU$220

  • Pros: High-quality alternative made from a mixture of sustainable materials.
  • Cons: It is relatively expensive for a Samba alternative, you might be better off getting the original and calling it a day. Hard to find in some markets, including Australia.

Where most brands take inspiration from basketball, tennis, and football, VEJA looks to the Brazilian volleyball shoes of the 1970s for this silhouette. What they’ve come up with is a Samba alternative that blends O.T. leather (Organic-Traced leather) from farms in Uruguay, which are 100 per cent organic certified. The quality is unmatched at this price point, and the overall style is unique with a low-cut silhouette, suede on the toe box, and gum outsole that’s flatter and more Vans-like.

Nike killshot 2
Nike Killshot 2 in Sail/Gum and Yellow/Oil Grey | Image: Supplied

8. Nike Killshot 2

Price: from AU$150

  • Pros: Leather and suede construction with a gum outsole means it’s very close to the adidas Samba OG.
  • Cons: The square outsole design with low-cut ankle collar gives off a skate-shoe aesthetic, which isn’t for everyone.

The Nike Killshot 2 is an alternative to the Adidas Samba and Nike’s Field General ’82, which we’ve included at the top of this article. What you’re looking at is another tennis-inspired sneaker with a low-cut silhouette, suede panelling over a leather upper, and a gum outsole. These are three key features of the adidas Samba, which makes the Nike Killshot 2 a perfect alternative. We’d recommend these to someone who prefers a more angular and flat skate-shoe-like design.

Alternatives to These Adidas Samba Alternatives

  • Nike Astro Grabber SP (from AU$360*): More sought-after than the Nike Field General ’82, the Nike Astro Grabber was released through a collaboration with BODE and caused a stir with its pared-back, minimalist aesthetic. It draws inspiration from the iconic football shoe from ’74, making it an obvious Samba alternative.
  • Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 (from AU$200): While it might not use the suede overlays like the adidas Samba, the Onitsuka Tiger Mexico 66 has taken off where the Samba left off, offering a retro low-cut silhouette that seems to go with everything.
  • adidas SL72 OG (from AU$150): Now, three suede and leather Adidas models should also be on your radar when shopping for a Samba alternative. The first is the SL72 OG, which uses a mixture of suede and mesh combined with a gum outsole to bring this aesthetic to the forefront.
  • adidas Gazelle Indoor (from AU$160): adidas through two silhouettes at the wall when trying to bring back the adidas Samba, and the Gazelle Indoor was the alternative. It didn’t have the initial reaction of the black, white, and leather sneaker, but it still brings plenty of suede vibes and a low-cut silhouette that seems to go with everything. There are more colourways too, so there are more choices.
  • adidas Country OG (from AU$200): The sleeper adidas Samba alternative that managed to catch our eye with the collaborative Song for the Mute collaboration that was released earlier this year. These combine all three ingredients to create a great alternative: suede over leather toe cap, gum outsole, and low-cut silhouette.

*Secondary market price: these shoes have sold out but are available through third-party resellers.

Google trends adidas samba trend
adidas Samba trend over time | Image: Google Trends

Why You Should Trust Our List

Man of Many has been writing about the biggest sneaker trends in the lifestyle space for over a decade. Author Ben McKimm is a sneaker expert with more than 5 years of experience in the sub-culture and a collection of more than 100 sneakers hidden in his basement. When it comes to the Samba, he originally wrote a piece about the sneaker’s rise in popularity towards the end of 2022. While he won’t claim to have sparked the trend, he’s been watching it closely and accumulated quite a collection of Adidas Sambas.

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