Last December, the always-stylish A $ AP Rocky in white sambas (which he freaked out by adding slimy green laces) was spotted on the set for A $ AP Nast’s “Designer Boi” music video. And then, in January, apparently a place in the constant rotation of the hip-hop star. Then A $ AP Nast jumped on the samba wave, pairing white (no neon laces) with a perfectly fitting coat and pants, and fired an Instagram with the headline “I just want these sambas”. Just last week, Frank Ocean was spotted in New York City putting on a pair of sambas even in the dead of winter.
The samba has been a favorite of many – mostly soccer players and skaters – for decades, but has only recently made the leap into the world of fashion. The original design, which debuted in the 1950s, is barely recognizable as the samba we see today. It was a bulkier silhouette with stiff kangaroo leather and an unprecedented rubber outsole that offers better traction and more uncompromising durability for cold weather training. As five-on-five football grew in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, samba also grew in popularity. It quickly became the sneaker of choice for its traction on hard surfaces, a perfect fit for a game on hardwood or artificial grass – and it was stylish enough to wear off the pitch. (I texted my dad, an avid soccer player of his day, to confirm, “Yes, I wore the samba,” he replied. “We all did.”) It found itself among skaters in the 1990s and 2000s a new audience who also embraced it for the rigid portability and stylish look.
Bella Hadid in a pair of Wales Bonner Sambas.
Take a quick look at the samba and it’s pretty easy to see why the design has been embraced by fashion today. The silhouette is undeniably timeless, and the sneaker is simple enough to be worn with just about any look. This simplicity is also the reason why so many designers rely on it: it’s a nice starting point to give your own spin. It’s not too often that a sneaker appeals to an actor, designer, rapper and skater in one fell swoop. Best of all, unlike limited edition hyped sneakers, the Samba isn’t going anywhere.