Adidas Samba vs Adidas Spezial: What's the Difference?

Adidas Samba vs Adidas Spezial
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The Adidas name has been a constant in the cultural zeitgeist for over 60 years, thanks to an impressive sportswear and fashion-focused clothing collection.

Among this lineup sit two iconic silhouettes - the Samba and Spezial. These two trainers, derived from specialist sporting shoes, have become staples in casual fashion.

If you're thinking of picking up a pair of three-striped trainers, you can't go wrong with the uber-versatile Samba and Spezial, but what's the difference between the two, and which is best?

In this edition of our lifestyle blogs, we explore both shoes in detail, comparing their style, exclusivity, cultural significance, and more to see their similarities and if one is better than the other.

But first, let's explore the origins of these two trainers…

An Introduction to the Adidas Samba and Spezial

The Adidas Samba has a rich history dating back to the 1950s when it was initially designed as a football training shoe. Over the decades, its sleek silhouette and distinctive toe cap have made it a timeless classic, transcending its athletic origins to become a streetwear icon. With its signature three stripes and gum rubber outsole, the Samba exudes retro charm and enduring style.

The Spezial also started life as a sports shoe, known initially as the Handball Spezial and designed for (you guessed it) handball. Like Sambas, Adidas Handball Spezial trainers were popularised by the football casuals of the 70s and 80s, who would bring Adidas trainers back from European away days in Europe.

The Spezial has cemented its place as a staple trainer thanks to its classic gum sole, suede fabric upper and understated stylings that make it so easy to pair with various outfits.

Now we know about these trainers' backgrounds, let's dive into the Adidas Samba vs Spezial Showdown.

Adidas Spezial vs Samba: Which Shoe is Best?


When it comes to quality, both the Samba and Spezial are crafted to the same high levels using premium materials.

Although the Spezial and Samba are no longer used for football and handball, they are built to last.

Adidas Samba Score: 9.5/10 

Adidas Spezial Score: 9.5/10

As the same company makes both trainers, they will go through the same quality control checks. This round is a tie!

Want to see how Adidas compares to Nike? Check out 'Nike vs Adidas: Which Brand is Best?'.


There are lots of similarities between Spezials and Sambas. Both feature the same sole design, three-striped branding and Adidas' signature 'T toe cap'.

Despite this, there are some differences; for example, the sole on the Spezial is thicker and more structured than the flatter Samba. This means the Spezial may be more comfortable depending on the shape of your foot.

Traditionally, the Samba is made with a leather upper, harking back to its roots as a shoe made for football, while the Spezial is made from suede. Both materials are of the same high quality but will cater to different preferences.

Both trainers are available in various colourways and feature understated branding, making them understated choices and versatile pieces to have on your shoe rack.

Adidas Samba Score: 9.5/10 

Adidas Spezial Score: 9.5/10

Choosing between the Adidas Samba and Adidas Spezial in terms of style ultimately comes down to personal preference. Whether you gravitate towards the Samba or the Spezial, both sneakers offer unparalleled style that elevates any outfit.


While the Adidas Samba and Spezial boast widespread popularity, they also have their fair share of exclusive releases catering to collectors and enthusiasts seeking something special.

Limited edition collaborations, regional exclusives, and unique colourways add an element of exclusivity to these iconic sneakers, driving demand and intrigue among sneakerheads worldwide.

The Samba has been the subject of numerous limited-edition collaborations, with everyone from Bob Marley and Jonah Hill to brands like Sporty & Rich and JJJJound having signature Sambas.

Some iterations of the Sambas, including from the Wales Bonner collaboration, regularly sell for over £1,000, highlighting how sought after and exclusive they are. The most expensive Samba sold was a rare sample made with Liverpool FC, which was listed on eBay for over £2,500.

By comparison, brands and celebrities have not given the Spezial as much attention. The Spezial name has inspired one of Adidas' most popular collections, which celebrates iconic Adidas silhouettes and the UK casual and rave cultures Adidas is synonymous with.

Although it is not centred around the shoe, Liam and Noel Gallagher champion the Spezial range, and Stormzy has been spotted wearing pieces from the collection.

Adidas Samba Score: 9/10 

Adidas Spezial Score: 8.0/10

With such a massive roster of collaborations, the Samba wins this round; however, the Spezial's cult-following gives it a high score.

Cultural Significance

The Adidas Samba and Spezial have left an indelible mark on sneaker culture, transcending their athletic origins to become symbols of self-expression and individuality.

These sneakers have become synonymous with style, identity, and authenticity, from the terraces to the catwalk.

While Spezial trainers are deeply intertwined with British culture through the football casuals movement, the Samba is one of the most culturally relevant shoes and has been for over 50 years. Everyone from Kendall Jenner to Rishi Sunak has been spotted wearing the iconic white and black Sambas.

Adidas Samba Score: 9.5/10 

Adidas Spezial Score: 8.5/10


While steeped in tradition and heritage, Adidas continues to push the boundaries of innovation with its Samba line.

From advancements in materials, like the Vegan Samba, to collaborations with cutting-edge designers and artists, such as Ronnie Fieg's 8th Street Samba, which included Clarks' signature crepe sole, the Samba represents the intersection of tradition and innovation, blending timeless design with modern technology.

The Spezial has also been reinvented, using Primeknit fabric to create more lightweight, breathable shoes.

The classic design of both trainers means that for all of the new iterations and innovative collaborations, the original profile of these shoes has stood the test of time.

Adidas Samba Score: 9/10 

Adidas Spezial Score: 8/10

With its dedication to preserving heritage while embracing innovation, the Adidas Samba leads the innovation department.

Samba vs Spezial: Final Scores

Now, the moment we've all been waiting for, the final scores…

Adidas Samba final score: 46.5/10 

Adidas Spezial final score: 43.5/10

In this battle, the Adidas Samba comes out on top thanks to its cultural significance and all the collaborations the trainer has been central to.

Having said this, the Spezial and Samba are classics for a reason. The understated design, fantastic colour options and versatility of both shoes mean you can't go wrong with either.

The Samba might have beaten the Spezial in this guide, but how did it compare to the Gazelle? Read 'Adidas Samba vs Gazelle: Which Shoe is Best?'.

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Take a spin at the best online slots in the UK, or join the fun with online bingo games. Whatever you enjoy playing, play it with Slingo!

For more luxury fashion inspiration, head to the lifestyle news section of our website or check out these guides:



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