From Samba to Superstar: Which Adidas Sneakers Are Right for You?
By Paolo Sandoval
The Adidas Superstar is sneaker royalty, full stop. Tracing its origins back to the ’70s, the three-stripe silo proved synonymous with cool thanks to endorsements first by court stars like Kareem Abdul-Jabar and later by hip-hop titans Run DMC. Its textured toe-box may no longer be a novel concept, but it remains an iconic Adidas style to this day.
Adidas Superstar
If you don’t automatically recognize the clean colorways, sleek profile and mustachioed tongue-graphic of the Adidas Stan Smith, we’re not so sure we can help you. Arguably Adidas’ most notable lifestyle sneaker, and certainly among the best-selling, the Stan Smith has withstood the test of time, with over half a century of blessing feet everywhere since its namesake dominated the court.
Adidas Stan Smith
What more is there to be said about the Adidas Samba? A seminal three-stripes style, the football trainer turned cultural icon mainstay cool people’s feet for decades, and will probably continue to do so for decades more. It’s recently gained a new level of hype among sneaker fans, thanks to frequent collaborations with the British fashion label, Wales Bonner.
Adidas Samba
Another sneaker to draw inspiration from soccer, the 1966 release has remained a linchpin in the Adidas catalog as a casual alternative to the Stan Smith and Superstar, passing through numerous iterations of design and a plethora of different constructions — kangaroo leather, synthetics and the current suede finish have all composed the Gazelles upper — over its 60-odd lifespan. A football-adjacency has elevated it to cult status specifically in the U.K. — you might remember a little band called Oasis donning the Gazelle from time to time.
Adidas Gazelle
A fraternal look-alike to the Gazelle, the Adidas Campus, like most of its brethren, began as a performance shoe, dubbed “Tournament,” an alternative to the court-dominating Superstar. Renamed “Campus” in the 1980s, the style slowly gained notoriety for the pared-back stitched sole and buttery-suede suede upper, as well as for its penchant for popping up on the feet of The Beastie Boys. Although less popular than the Superstar and Stan Smith, the style maintains its claim as one of the coolest models around, featuring a host of coveted collabs and endorsements.
Adidas Campus
One of Adidas’ most instantly-recognizable silhouettes, few shoes have had the cultural impact of Adidas’ bubbly-soled UltraBoost sneakers in as little time. Released in 2015, the style rocketed from a niche running shoe to must-have lifestyle grail overnight thanks to some excellent collaborations, unparalleled comfort, and an endorsement by a one Kanye West. While they’re transitioned from hype-forward grail to something of a commonplace kick, there’s zero denying that the UB’s grip on hypebeast culture will go down in history.
Adidas UltraBoost 5.0
Utilizing the same Boost midsole technology as the UltraBoost, the NMD’s lightweight Primeknit gives it an appeal similar to that of the Nike Roshe Run — easy on and easier still to wear. The NMD silo has been bolstered by an abundance of iterations over the years, from the weatherproof GORETEX styles to the bootie-esque City Sock, making it practically impossible not to find a style right for you.
Adidas NMD
A vicennial release, the Busenitz was designed for Adidas’ kickflip-focused contingency, originally the pro model for skater Dennis Busenitz. Co-opted from the Copa Mundial football boot, the Buenitz takes many cues from the classic soccer-style fold-down tongue and cupsole, but details like the Geofit collar make it all it’s own.
Adidas Busenitz
The presumed answer to the Converse All-Star, the Nizza was released in 1975 as an all-around athletic shoe, with a reinforced toe-cap, and a grippy, high-profile gum sole, which has made the Nizza a sneaker of choice for skaters everywhere — along with their reasonable price tag.
Adidas Nizza
Originally released in 1996, the Ozweego (and following OZ styles) integrated athletics and sportswear with then-innovative adiPRENE cushioning and Torsion sole support, creating a meshed experience between performance and lifestyle. While the original design faded from Adidas’ core silos, the unique structure made it a favorite of ‘heads and designers everywhere — most notably, Raf Simons — and the style was rebooted in the late 2010s.
Adidas Ozweego
Adidas’ latest basketball reboot, the Forum (in particular, the Forum ’84 Low) has seen a resurgence in the past months, perfectly scratching the retro-kicks itch at a fraction of the resale price. The suede lining and rubber sole may nod to their original purpose, but the Forum ’84 Low is a modern lifestyle shoe, through and through.
Adidas Forum
Adidas’ most recent foray into the cutting edge of performance and lifestyle, the 3D-printed lattice midsole of the 4DFWD was crafted over four years, utilizing data from runners to create a functional, ergonomic and lightweight cushioning tech that you have to wear to believe.We've put in the work researching, reviewing and rounding up all the shirts, jackets, shoes and accessories you'll need this season, whether it's for yourself or for gifting purposes. Sign up here for weekly style inspo direct to your inbox.
Adidas 4D