adidas Samba vs. Gazelle: what's the difference?
When it comes to footwear, nothing is more instantly recognisable than the famous Three Stripes.
It’s an iconic symbol of the fashion industry and it’s helped to cement adidas as a colossus of the streetwear game.
But, adidas trainers are a wide-ranging and vibrant bunch, with multiple options for every personal style imaginable.
We’re here to explain all the details with simple summaries, giving you the info you need to choose the perfect adidas trainer for you.
Settle in, here we go…
The Gazelle & Samba: a brief intro
The adidas Gazelle has a long and influential history, especially in the UK. Beginning way back in 1966 (yes, a great year).
This is in part due to its initial and ongoing popularity in northern English towns before being adopted by many as a British subculture.
Thanks to its simplistic yet stylish design, paired with a constant marketing revival, this shoe has been firmly in the limelight for well over 50 years.
Today it is available in a wide variety of colourways and comes in slightly differing iterations. The most popular of which are the OG, the Vintage and the simple ‘Gazelle’, which is modelled after the 1991 version.
They often feature a suede upper, a unique rubber midsole with a distinctive rough texture, alongside contrasting heel patch and tongue, all of which make for a sleek yet casual look.
The adidas Samba is one of adidas’ oldest shoes, initially introduced in 1949 for indoor football players.
This is the main reason why they feature the large gum-rubber ‘pivot point’ on the sole of the shoe, to aid with grip and stability on the slippery, hardwood floors of sports halls.
The Samba is still a Futsal player’s option, but it’s more often seen as a streetwear staple nowadays. With design collaborations landing left, right and centre.
Similar to the Gazelle, many different versions have been released over the past 70+ years, leading to the ‘Super’, ‘Super Suede’, ‘Classic’ and ‘OG’ versions that are widely available today.
Worn by a countless number of celebrities and fictional characters from TV and film, they’ve firmly been cemented into social and pop culture.
What are the similarities between Samba & Gazelle?
For a clear starter, both shoes employ the iconic Three Stripes on their upper, placed in the middle of the shoe on both the instep and outstep.
In the classic colourways, the stripes are usually kept white, but more contemporary versions feature them in a vast array of colours.
These stripes help form the core design of each overall shoe, and ensure that anyone can instantly tell it’s from the German giant’s sneaker catalogue.
The edges of the stripes are also corrugated on both collections, which drives home that heritage feel.
To reflect a more modern look on recent contemporary versions, the stripes have clean edges without spikes.
The heel portion usually contrasts the rest of both shoes, and is a general mainstay of most adidas Originals designs.
Gum sole versions of Gazelle (the Indoor) and Samba are both available, which gives the similar look across the two models.
The toe cap is another feature that is worthy of a mention, as on both the Gazelle and the Samba the T-shaped toe cap is used, which brings the upper together.
There is one final similarity too, with both shoes having their collection name embossed above the stripe closest to the collar. This is a trademark adidas design point and is visible on many of their trainers.
What are the differences between Samba & Gazelle?
The adidas Samba always features a rubber gum sole as standard, whereas the Gazelle often has a standard rubber sole (gum is available on the Indoor version).
The gum sole is instantly recognisable due to its brown or tan colour, which often contrasts the rest of the shoe.
It gives a heritage look, and it’s softer than its regular rubber counterparts, providing better grip too.
Another difference that distinctly identifies both is the heel patch. This is the portion to the rear of both shoes that has the ‘Trefoil’ logo inside of it on the Gazelle.
All iterations of the Gazelle feature this, but only the ‘Super’ and ‘Super Suede’ versions of the Samba.
On the tongue of the Gazelle, the colour is usually white and in contrast with the rest of the shoe.
This is unlike the Samba, where the tongue is more often the same colour as the main upper.
The last thing to look at are the soles of both collections. The classic Samba opts for the ‘pivot point’ at the ball of the foot and a contrasting half-and-half tread design.
The OG Gazelle instead comes with a repeat hexagonal pattern, covering the entire outsole.
Which other adidas trainers will always be popular?
Built for the basketball courts of the 1980s and still going strong, the adidas Campus is a classic design.
Along with the Superstar, it helped adidas to force their way into the Nike dominated North American market.
Worn religiously by the Beastie Boys and other hip-hop legends, this shoe will forever have its place in sneaker folklore.
More ‘80s vibes from their repertoire now, the adidas Continental 80 goes with everything in your wardrobe. Fact.
This sneaker hall-of-famer has a true throwback feel, available in a massive range of lively and fun colourways.
Rebranded as the ‘80’ back in 2018, this release encouraged the younger generation to embrace casual, retro looks.
Created in celebration of the Los Angeles Olympic Games of 1984, the adidas LA has truly stood the test of time. And won gold.
True ‘80s running style will never go out of fashion, which is why new colourways and designs of the LA keep coming.
Looking smart in suede and mesh, the shoe with the spiky outsole and removable button heel plugs will remain iconic for years to come.
A retro classic, reinvented for the modern streets. First appearing in 1996, alongside earworming choruses from the Spice Girls.
This chunky ‘dad shoe’ is now part of most young folks’ wardrobes, versatile enough to match up with casual or smart outfits.
With the latest adidas Ozweego only having been around since 2019, this adidas sneaker isn’t going to drop off in sales any time soon.
Ah, the legend itself. To sneaker enthusiasts, adidas Spezial can often be the holy grail of releases.
They’re terrace wear of the highest order, and fresh reinventions continue to come from the team behind the Spezial.
Exciting collaborations drop regularly for this collection, we’ve even seen them from the king of the Spezial himself, Liam Gallagher.
Back to basics. A stone-cold killer of a tennis shoe, from an icon of the game that most wearers won’t have heard of: Stan Smith.
Invented in the 1960s and not hugely changed since (bar more comfortable tech), the adidas Stan Smith is a must-have for men, women or kids.
Changing the design into more sustainable materials is adidas’ aim, so this model will be on the shelves for a long time yet.
The unmistakable shell-toe. Debuted in 1970 on the hardcourts of the NBA, the low-top adidas Superstar was long a favourite of pro ‘ballers.
Another shoe which exploded in the hip-hop scene (thanks to Run DMC’s support), the Superstar oozes style.
Available in a ton of colourways and collaboration designs, it’s been going for 60+ years. And it’ll no doubt do 60+ more.
Every leading brand has a flagship running shoe, and the adidas Ultraboost delivers incredible comfort and performance.
Built for every type of runner, from beginner to professional, the Ultraboost has been helping athletes achieve their best since 2015.
But, you don’t have to be an athlete to appreciate this trainer. It looks just as good on the track as it does on the streets.
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