Is 2023 the year of Samba succession? 

After setting the blueprint for sneaker trends over the last few years, the adidas Samba has propelled its easy-wearing appeal into stylish wardrobes worldwide, leaving us with an appetite for low-profile heritage sneakers that is here to stay. 

First released in 1949, before the Brazil World Cup, the adidas Samba was designed for the icy football pitches of Europe, providing traction on frozen ground. After several redesigns, the silhouette has evolved into the much-loved sneaker it is today. The slimmed-down style is as much a feature on indoor football courts as on the streets, infiltrating the mainstream while maintaining a subcultural appeal. 

The Samba’s fabled fashion return can partly be attributed to its understated simplicity, attracting fashion’s most talked about designers to showcase collaborative takes on the heritage sneaker. First joining forces in 2020, adidas and Wales Bonner have released a range of sought-after Sambas as part of limited-edition collaborations. With a history of over 70 years, the Three Stripes icon is the perfect collaborative project for Bonner’s nostalgic exploration into ‘70s subcultures. 

While the Samba has performed well, with a host of  high-profile wearers from Frank Ocean to Bella Hadid, the Gazelle has been waiting in the wings for its own fashion moment. A then newly appointed adidas CEO, Bjørn Gulden, told fans to “look for the Samba [and to] to look for the Gazelle” in March, hinting at what was to come. The Samba’s premium leather uppers have appealed to various brands, from the country club chic of Sporty & Rich to the detail focussed KITH. However, the tide seems to be changing. 

Lacking the ties to the beautiful game of its football-inspired cousin, the Gazelle is a polymath, tackling anything that comes its way. Crafted from dyed suede, the slightly beefier silhouette enabled a vibrant colour palette to be pushed onto sports consumers upon its 1966 release. A favourite on the football terraces, the Gazelle forms part of a uniform seen up and down the country, often paired with versatile Stone Island pieces and straight-cut denim. The Gazelle’s long-lasting appeal is as hard as some of its wearers, maintaining a fashionable presence since the debut of its latest shape in 1991. 

While a leather upper has been favoured for several co-branded takes on the Samba, one fashion house saw the potential of the Gazelle’s supple suede construction. Now on its second collaboration with legendary fashion house Gucci, the Gazelle effortlessly displays the Italian brand’s iconic ‘GG’ motif, embossed into premium suede. The Harry Styles-approved collaboration comes in four shades of black, blue, green and grey, perfect for a retro-inspired touch of luxury. 

The suede low-top was ranked seventh in Lyst’s quarterly index for the first part of 2023. For context, in the third quarter of 2022, the Samba was ranked as the fifth most popular product. 

Being the highest ranking of only two sneakers to feature on the list for the first quarter of 2023 further highlights the cultural and commercial impact of the Gazelle. 

From the streets of Soho to the stands of the San Siro, adidas footwear has captivated stylish shoppers, appeasing our nostalgia for retro-inspired looks with a timeless design. With surging popularity and a string of high-profile collaborations, 2023 is the year of the Gazelle.