Adidas Spezial vs Samba [An In-depth Comparison of the Best]

Written By Sunny

Last year I spent hours picking my new pair of Adidas shoes, as I was confused about the Spezial. It seemed the same as my Samba pair back then, but I decided to try it out.


However, it took me months to finally notice their differences.

Likewise, are you struggling to make a choice between these two popular sneakers?

Fear not! Here, I’ll share with you the key variations between Adidas Samba and Spezial.

So, if you wanna make an informed choice, keep reading!

A Quick Overview of Adidas Samba and Spezial

Before jumping to their comparison, let’s get to know how these two popular Adidas sneakers started their journey.

History of Adidas Spezial

The Adidas Spezial was first introduced in 1979 as a handball shoe designed for indoor use.

This pair was not just a popular sneaker in the sporting world. But it also quickly became associated with the casual fashion scene, particularly in the UK, where it became a staple of the “casuals” subculture.

However, with the sneaker’s simple, streamlined design and high-quality materials, it has remained a popular sneaker to this day.

History of Adidas Samba

The Adidas Samba was first introduced in 1950 as an indoor soccer shoe for icy surfaces. Like Spezial, Samba also quickly found a place in the fashion world.

Meanwhile, in the 70s and 80s, it became popular for breakdancing. Because its low profile and lightweight design were ideal for performing intricate dance moves.

However, its timeless design has made it a classic sneaker that is still sought after today.

What’s the Difference Between Adidas Spezial and Samba?

You may have noticed both Samba and Spezial come with similar traits. However, as I’ve experienced, they also vary in some distinctive aspects, mainly in performance, fit, durability, material, insole, and overall design.

So, let’s have a look at how Adidas Spezial and Samba differ from each other:

1. Material and Design

The main difference between these two pairs is in the material they use for the upper.

The Samba uses full-grain leather for the upper with suede T-toe braces. Conversely, the Spezial upper, including the toe cap, is entirely made of Nubuck suede. Plus, the toe-box in Spezial is slimmer than the Sambas.

Meanwhile, Samba also has some vegan options, which you won’t find in Spezial. So, if you want cruelty-free sporty sneakers, go with the Sambas.

As for the design, the Samba comes with a classic retro design with the iconic three-stripe. On the other hand, Adidas has designed the Spezial sneakers with a modern touch through its reflective three-stripes.

2. Insole

Both Samba and Spezial shoes feature comfy insoles made of EVA material. However, Spezial gets an extra point here by offering orthotic insoles for people with foot conditions like flat feet.

Yet, with its moderate cushioning, my pair of Sambas were comfy enough while playing indoor soccer or walking around the streets.

3. Outsole Design

Both shoes feature a flexible gum rubber outsole that provides good traction.

However, because of the added cushion support, the outsole of the Spezial is a bit thicker than the Samba. And their grip pattern is different as well.


The outsole of Spezial was designed to provide a good grip on indoor surfaces. But for the Samba, the outsole treads were designed to hold up well, even on slippery ice surfaces.

In my experience, Sambas are better for slippery surfaces, and Spezials work better on regular surfaces.

4. Performance

As far as performance goes, the Adidas Spezial is designed to provide support and stability for indoor sports.

They did well while playing indoor handball and basketball. The shoes even provided a good grip on dusty surfaces.

The Samba, on the other hand, was originally designed as a soccer shoe. And due to its low profile and lightweight design, I was able to do quick yet smoother movements on the field.

Even so, both shoes work better indoors than outdoors.

Note: Due to their simple or no cushioning, neither Samba nor Spezial will be a good choice for high-performance activities like running or basketball.

5. Sizing

As mentioned on the official Adidas website, both Samba and Spezial fit true to size.

Yet in my case, the scene was quite different. I went for my regular size for both Samba and Spezial. But Samba fit a bit tight to my average feet, and I had to go with half-size up for a better fit.


On the other hand, with my regular size, Spezials fit snugly but not too tight.

If you like a snug fit, go with your regular sneaker size with the Spezials. But for a roomy fit, you can go half-size up with them.

Meanwhile, there’s no luck with both shoes if you have wide feet. Even going half size bigger won’t help you as they come in a narrower cut.

6. Price

Since it costs much to make Adidas shoes, most of them fall in the expensive category. Samba and Spezial are no exception.

However, both offer shoes in low to high price ranges. But if compared, Spezials are slightly pricier than the Sambas.

As Samba offers a wide range of styles, it’s easy to find any affordable style from them. And the overall price range for Samba is $55 to $130. Moreover, they have some expensive models, such as Humanrace Samba Shoes. And this pair comes at a hefty price of $200.

Meanwhile, the overall price range for Spezial is $83 to $160. And due to its limited style offerings, it’s pretty tough to get any low-budget shoes for Spezials.

7. Durability

Where how long the shoes last is a question; Adidas answers it by offering shoes that can last more than a year.

Likewise, as both Samba and Spezials are made of premium materials, they are quite durable. But if compared, I would say Sambas last a bit longer than the Spezials.

To talk about the longevity of the color, if you have a vibrant pair of Sambas, it may fade out faster than that of the Sapezials. But this won’t be an issue for darker shades, such as black.

Overall, the Adidas Spezial and Samba are both classic sneakers with rich histories and unique features. While they may have been designed for specific sports, both found their place in the fashion world.

And to pick your suitable one between them, consider keeping their pros and cons in mind, which I’ll provide you with in the next segment.

Pros and Cons of Adidas Samba and Spezial

Like all other sneakers, Samba and Spezial have some drawbacks as well. And you should know all these negative sides of these sneakers to make an informed decision.

So, let’s know what pros and cons Samba and Spezial come with:

Adidas Samba

  • »More durable.
  • »Affordable.
  • »Good for slippery surfaces.
  • »Comfortable.
  • »Wide range of styles are available.
  • »Narrower cut.
  • »True size fits a bit tight.
  • »Less cushioning.

Adidas Spezial

  • »Orthotic insoles.
  • »Good cushioning.
  • »Durable.
  • »Gives a snug but comfy fit.
  • »Modern and futuristic design.
  • »Expensive.
  • »Limited styles are available.
  • »Not suitable for wide feet.


Samba and Spezial have every feature you wish to have in casual sports sneakers. So, if you don’t have any specific requirements and just wanna rock the street with a sporty vibe, you can grab any of them.

However, if you are more focused on comfort and cushioning, Spezial might be a better choice for you. At the same time, this pair will fulfill all your needs through its versatile and sleek design.

But you can choose the Sambas if you want an affordable yet durable Adidas pair that you can use for playing soccer or to enhance your daily look.

However, personally, I like the Samba more due to its retro design with the classic T-toe detailing. And from the sidewalk to the stadium, you can wear them proudly everywhere.


How Does Adidas Spezial Fit?

Adidas Spezial fits true to size on average to narrow feet. So, going with your regular size with the Spezial will do just fine. However, this shoe does not fit well on wide feet due to its narrow toe design.

Are Spezial and Samba the Same?

Spezial and Samba are not the same, although they look quite similar. They differ in their material, design, and pricing. Where Spezial uses only Nuback suede for its upper, Samba uses a combination of synthetic and natural leather for the upper.

Why is Adidas Samba so famous?

Adidas Samba became so famous due to its comfy and classic design. Plus, Celebrities and influencers, including Bella Hadid, Rihanna, and many more, have been spotted wearing the Adidas Samba from time to time, which took the shoe’s popularity to the next level.

Final Thoughts

Being two of the most popular models of Adidas, both Samba and Spezial have incredible features.

However, with all the detailed info given here, I hope now you can make a choice between them. So, without hesitating anymore, grab your favorite one among them.

And for further queries, drop a comment below!

About The Author
Sunny is all about action and activities. He finds it difficult to contain himself. Be it motorcycling, playing football, or exploring the great outdoors, he loves to keep his legs busy.Sunny quickly realized the importance of footwear to keep himself going healthily. This was when he decided to share all his knowledge and expertise regarding different footwear and their significance.Now, he’s on a mission with this humble platform by his side. With time he plans on doing bigger and better things.Apart from his writing and other hobbies, he loves spending time with his cat Sophie. He loves to cook for his friends and family too.

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