Rishi Sunak faced an internet storm after wearing a pair in a Downing Street interviewEmily McDonagh for Varsity /cut-out of Rishi Sunak taken from photo by Nuumber 10 on Flickr, CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

I might sound overdramatic but I’m starting to feel a bit sick every time I look down at my feet and see a pair of Adidas Sambas. To my credit, I’ve only got two pairs but, quite frankly, I’m starting to think that’s two pairs too many.

First, let me give some credit where it’s due. The Samba is a solid choice of footwear. They’re classic, stylish, comfortable and pretty wearable for any occasion. To my dismay, I find myself reaching for my black and white pair almost daily.

“Perhaps a once classic shoe has become a bit too mainstream”

But I think I’ve had enough now. I can no longer cope with being perceived as part of the flock. I look around me and realise that I’m no longer cool, stylish or unique (as if I ever was) because these trainers are everywhere. I look back at myself a year ago and feel ashamed for having been pulled into yet another style craze, frantically scrolling on Depop because I simply had to get my hands on a pair. And for what? For my own mother to hop on the trend a few months later.

To add insult to injury, only last month Rishi Sunak flaunted a pair of them in a Downing Street interview, sending the Internet into a frenzy. In Adidas’ words, “the Adidas Samba shoes embody self-expression and effortless style […] from the feet of football athletes to the high-fashion runways,” and now to … politicians? I’m not sure that’s what Adidas had in mind.

Suddenly the Adidas Samba has become a marker that you're simply following the crowdEmily McDonagh for Varsity

Now, everybody is entitled to wear what they like but at what point do we take this as a sign the trend has gone too far? Perhaps a once classic shoe has become a bit too mainstream. Suddenly, they seem a bit boring, no longer a choice of individual style but a marker that you’re simply following the crowd. Or, in Sunak’s case, attempting to fit in with a younger demographic.

“Consumers clearly recognise who a brand was made for and are quick to call out fashion faux pas”

And this isn’t the first time that politicians have shocked the fashion community by flaunting unexpected clothing items. Keir Starmer was spotted wearing a blue pair of Adidas trainers back in April and is known to love a Stone Island polo shirt. A couple of months ago, Joe Biden was seen rocking a pair of Hoka trainers leaving the White House and let’s not forget Nigel Farage’s taste for Adidas Gazelles; the GB News presenter released a social media video poking fun at Sunak, captioned: “Who wore it best, me or Rishi?”

So, are politicians tainting our much-beloved clothing classics? It was certainly a blow to the Samba-loving community to see the Prime Minister sporting a pair. But perhaps the immediate outrage after Sunak’s Samba appearance is more a sign that they’re here to stay. Adidas trainers first became popular in subcultures and marginalised communities. The reactive sentiment that they don’t belong on the feet of Rishi Sunak potentially reinforces the brand’s image and progressive reputation instead of damaging it.


Mountain View

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So, next time you see a politician wearing clothing that seems a bit forced, this may well speak to their disconnect with the brand’s customer base rather than heralding the downfall of the company. The very fact that people found it laughable for Sunak to wear a pair of Sambas reinforces brand identity rather than destroying it. Consumers clearly recognise who a brand was made for and are quick to call out fashion faux pas, signalling, in this case, not the death of the Samba, but potentially a strengthening of its reputation.

Now, does this mean I’m no longer fed up with my Sambas? Of course not. I still suppress my gag reflex when I slip them on each day. But I’m also not about to throw them away. Rishi Sunak has not ruined my love for the classic trainer but perhaps given me a wake-up call that it’s time to move on.