Adidas Humanrace Samba: The Most Important Adidas of 2023
Price: $200 [Check eBay for Current Prices]
The Adidas Humanrace Samba uses good materials on a classic shape, and should last as long as any designer-branded competitor.
The Adidas Humanrace Samba is as uncomfortable as any other Samba, and will be hard to style for most guys.
|Materials||Leather / Rubber|
|Weight||465 g / 1 lb 0.4 oz|
|Country of Origin||Vietnam|
For most of the last 8 years, collaborations at Adidas had Yeezy and then everyone else. If your name wasn’t Kanye, your sneakers’ wings needed to be clipped to avoid taking the top spot. You were limited in materials, and more importantly, price.
As we all know, Adidas doesn’t need to worry about upsetting Ye anymore. In fact, the biggest problem facing the brand is that they didn’t have anyone ready to soar to the top spot. The Beyonce collabs ended up losing the brand money, Bad Bunny sneakers get some attention but often sat on release day.
That brings us to today, and Pharrell. Described by Adidas as “the most elevated interpretation of the iconic silhouette,” this version of the Samba was given to Pharrell without the handcuffs. Priced more than 50% higher than his last Samba, this sneaker will show if he can offer that high-price, high-hype role the brand desperately needs.
It’s also releasing at a time when slim sneakers are coming back, and when people desperately need quality over quantity.
Did he succeed? Or will these end up selling for $25 dollars in outlets like the Tennis Hu? Let’s dive in and find out.
Bright. If you had to summarize this Pink / Pink / Pink colorway of the Humanrace Samba in one word, it’d be Bright. Maybe you’re thinking you’ll be picking up this pair to give your dad an alternative to the black and white Samba’s he’s been wearing since 1985. Don’t. You need to want to wear these.
OK, to be fair, nobody is going to buy a bright pink shoe by accident. Knowing that it’s pink, what are you getting?
Well, the build of this samba is based on a blend of the Samba Classic, as opposed to the confusingly named “Samba OG,” with additions from the Samba ADV. What that means is you’re going to get the soccer upper design – long tongue and all – but with the beefed up build quality of the skater-focused ADV model.
Of course, with this being the potential savior of the brand, Adidas let Pharrell go a bit further. The tongue is different, using a stamped Adidas Originals logo and full leather construction. The lace holes are also different, using a metal-reinforced top eyelet, and skipping the offset tie-down eyelet.
Things are also simplified. The upper is made up of only a single material – just leather, no suede here. The back heel tab is also exterior as opposed to the classic design on the Samba, and unsewn on the bottom.
Speaking of leather, you’ll get 3 sets of laces, but all of them are leather. In addition to the same-color laces, each color gets a brown pair. The brown looks great with the Lilac and Red, but I’d skip them on the pink.
Inside, the entire sneaker is lined with a soft, glove-like leather. In pink, as if there was the possibility of anything else.
Mid & Outsole
I’ll give you all one guess on what the color of the outsole is on this Pink Humanrace Samba. Maybe slightly less bubble-gum-looking than the upper, the outsole is still clearly aimed to be in your face.
At the same time, there are no structural changes here. The outsole is just the traditional Samba outsole but with pink rubber poured in rather than brown.
Even though these sneakers do use a cup sole, it is not sewn on. In other words, you won’t find any stitching along the edge.
If you flip the Samba over, you’ll find the classic pattern. Alternating nubs on the back, with the “pivot point” pattern up front. This was designed for soccer in the snow, and is plenty grippy throughout the day.
As I already mentioned, these are shoes you wear only when you want to stand out. Nobody will be keeping these by the door to take the dog out. Please do not buy these as your only pair of kicks. Or your second. Or your 7th. I would also try to caution you against rocking these with a matching pink t-shirt or polo.
However, like I said above, that isn’t going to surprise anyone. If someone bought these, they knew that they were getting a once-every-few-months sneaker, and I need to evaluate them based on that.
Using that criteria? They are pretty darn good. Every change made to this sneaker was either designed to improve the quality, or simplify the look. Well, simplify other than the bright pink. As a way to elevate the design of the Samba, the Humanrace version is more durable, with materials that will age better.
I get that pink won’t be for everyone. Heck, I get that most of these bright colors won’t be for everyone. The good news? Tan, white, and black colorways are coming soon.
Fit & Comfort
The Adidas Samba is notoriously hard to fit. The Humanrace Samba? It fits exactly the same. This is an is an incredibly narrow sneaker. Originally designed to fit as closely to your feet as possible for playing soccer, many guys will find they are too close to your feet.
For a good percentage of the population, they are simply unwearable. To get a sneaker that is wide enough, you’d need so much toe space that it’d be uncomfortable to walk around in them.
As someone who has slightly-wider-than-average feet, I can make them work, but only because of the soft leather upper. If the cup sole was any higher, or the upper made of vegan leather, they’d be a no-go for me.
I take these in a size 13, which are slightly too narrow and slightly too long with thin socks. This is the same size I wear in most sneakers, but not nearly as comfortable a fit. I’d say that around 60% percent of guys will want to go with your classic sneaker size, and around 30% will want to go a half size up. 10% should buy something else.
The biggest drawback of the Humanrace Samba is the comfort. It’s just not good. When it comes to padding in the sneaker, you’re looking at the insole and the thin rubber outsole.
In many ways it manages to be the worst of both worlds. The padding is thin enough that there really isn’t any shock protection. At the same time, it’s thicker than something like Converse that are super flexible and feel like you’re wearing socks.
Add on the narrow sizing, and wearing these all day is rarely the right choice.
I know there are people who buy Sambas for something other than looks, but I can’t figure out why.
Materials & Construction
When designing this Humanrace Samba, they made my job here easy. There just are not that many different materials on the sneaker.
The upper is made up pretty much exclusively of a soft leather. Tanned by Ecco (yes, the same Ecco that makes the shoes) it’s picked for its environmental bonafides. It has more of a coating on it than I would typically like, but getting this color pink isn’t possible with dye alone. Compare the upper to the laces, and you can see the difference. It’s also fairly thin, but if it were any thicker I probably couldn’t put them on, so hard to complain there either.
Other than those complaints, the leather is pretty good. Not as good as I’ve ever seen on a sneaker – brands like Helm and Grant Stone will give you much better leather for similar price points – but some of the best from one of the big brands.
The only things on the upper not made of this leather are the laces – which are also leather – and the single metal eyelet.
Underfoot, you’ll have a thin foam insole. Then a rubber outsole. Then… nothing. The outsole itself is extremely soft. This is probably needed to provide what little comfort there is, but don’t expect it to last too long.
The Humanrace Samba is made using a cemented construction style. This is, by far, the most common way to make a sneaker.
Essentially, after building the upper, it is glued directly to the outsole. This means that it isn’t the most durable, and is extremely hard to resole. At the same time, it is the most flexible, the most water resistant, and the most affordable to make.
For a sneaker that was first designed to be used in sports, this is the obvious choice.
Originally priced at $200, the Adidas Humanrace Samba has mostly sold out on Adidas’ confirmed app. However, that took around 12 hours, and Adidas is known for pulling sneakers that were supposed to be hype that didn’t sell out. At time of writing, many sizes are still available on Humanrace.com.
That being said, stock numbers for these must have been extremely low. And aftermarket prices are highly volatile because of that – ranging from $250 to $450. For a sneaker that supposedly sold out, there are almost none available on the resale market. In the pink colorway, there is exactly 1 on eBay in any size, and 20 on StockX (all sizes). Compare that to the Mambacita that released a few days ago, where more than 200 are currently up on StockX, and Nike only made a few thousand of them.
Of course, the demand for the Mambacita is way higher. It still means that it’ll probably hard to find a connection for both a buyer and a seller. Expect wild price swings as buyers decide it’s the day, and sellers need to cut their losses.
Are the Adidas Humanrace Samba Worth it?
There are two ways to look at this question. First, the sneaker in a vacuum. Is the Humanrace Samba worth the $200 it cost at MSRP? Probably. At least, to the right person. It isn’t comfortable, and it isn’t practical. However, if you want a pink shoe that will age well, this is the only game in town. You’re paying a premium for it, but you need to – brands can’t stock a shoe like this in the way they can grey, blue, etc.
It’s a fashion statement, and it does that job really well.
What about the major question here. Does this sneaker, with its high cost for a basic silhouette, put Pharrell in the same conversation as the Yeezy brand?
Getting the obvious out of the way, there wasn’t huge demand for these. The app didn’t need 3 hours to work through online raffle entries. Nobody rage copped them off StockX when they didn’t win. Searching Instagram you don’t find anybody wearing them. And it goes beyond that.
As well as these sneakers work as a fashion statement, they still handcuffed the design. The combination of parts are unique, but still mostly pulled from existing models. The leather is good for Adidas, but not a material that will get clicks. They didn’t give Pharrell LightStrike pro like they gave Kanye Boost.
I love Pharrell’s style, and he did a great job with the tools he’s given. Honestly, for a dad like myself, constraining the sneaker to the Samba probably makes it more wearable. But I can’t help but feel like they need to let him off the leash where he isn’t modifying an Ultraboost or an NMD. Let’s see Pharrell’s 350v1.
The world is ready.