Sneakerhead Must-Owns: The 8 Best Adidas Sneaker Models For Men

Image Credit: Kith Editorial for adidas Samba

From British football terraces to Paris Fashion Week. From chart-topping music videos to Hollywood blockbusters – there are few places left untreaded by Adidas’ iconic sneakers. Known for their timeless styling, simplicity and striking Three-Stripe branding, these are some of the most popular shoes on the planet, with instantly recognisable silhouettes, industry-shaping tech and high-profile celebrity endorsements to boot.

Adidas sneakers are more than mere shoes; they’re cultural artefacts. Some of the brand’s models have become so entrenched in certain subcultures that they’re now part of the DNA. Take the Superstar and early hip-hop or the Gazelle and football casuals, for example – it’s almost impossible to imagine their respective scenes without them.

More recently, the Samba ascended to ‘It’ shoe status, taking over the world’s most fashionable cities as the default footwear of choice for clued-up individuals, leading shortly after to mainstream saturation. But what makes shoes like these so popular? And what other Adidas models should be on your radar? Keep scrolling to find out.


Chances are you’re already more than familiar with the Adidas Samba. Perhaps you’re wearing a pair right now. But if you’re not fully clued in, this sleek, low-profile soccer training shoe has recently enjoyed a massive popularity surge.

It has been selling in record numbers since the early 2020s, and you’d be hard-pressed to head into any city centre without spotting at least a handful of pairs. Not bad for a shoe well into its 50s.

Designed for playing on snowy and icy pitches, the Samba, as we know and love it today, launched in 1972. It featured a multidirectional grip for fast-paced footwork on slippery ground, a cushioned heel and a low vamp for precise ball control.

These days, it’s more popular off the pitch than on, mainly because it’s comfortable, looks great and goes with almost anything.


Where the Samba was born for outdoor sports, the Gazelle was designed for indoor athletic action. When it first launched in 1966, this suede sneaker quickly became the go-to indoor training shoe for sports teams around the world, becoming an essential part of their kit and a regular sight in fashion editorial photoshoots.

Today, the Gazelle remains largely unchanged and (despite several production breaks) is still as popular as ever. It’s a simple suede shoe with a low-profile silhouette, crisp Three Stripes branding to each side and an embossed tongue for padding.

A true classic, and one of the most iconic Adidas sneakers of all time.

Stan Smith

All those premium sneaker brands creating uncluttered white leather footwear owe a lot to the Stan Smith. This humble tennis shoe was the OG minimalist leather sneaker, featuring a simple round toe, beautifully simple styling and no real detail or branding aside from a contrast tongue logo, contrast heel tab and three subtle perforated stripes to each side.

Originally called the Halliet after the French tennis player of the same name, the shoe was launched in the mid-1960s. Following his retirement, his shoes were filled, quite literally by American player Stan Smith. The shoe’s name was changed, and its reputation cemented as Smith became one of the greatest tennis pros of all time.

In his heyday, he was world number one and 1972 Wimbledon and US Open champion, but arguably his greatest legacy remains his eponymous Adidas sneaker.


The Superstar was launched as a basketball shoe in the 1970s and quickly became a hit with athletes and general consumers alike. It featured a zig-zag outsole for grip on the court and its USP: a rubber toe guard to protect against impacts while playing and training.

As footwear tech advanced, the Superstar’s time on the court was short-lived, but it quickly found a new lease of life when rappers and B-boys adopted it in the late 1970s and early 1980s as the hip-hop community’s shoe of choice.

Today, the Superstar is a well-established staple in the Adidas footwear lineup, and it remains essentially unchanged since its release all those decades ago – a testament to its timeless design.

It still has strong ties to hip-hop, but you don’t have to dress like a rapper to pull it off – it’s simple yet striking and easy to style, and therein lies its beauty.


A staple in the late 1990s, brought to the fashion crowd’s attention by Raf Simons in the 2010s and resurrected for the masses by Adidas 2019, the Ozweego is a chunky, maximalist outlier in the brand’s understated footwear fleet.

It features a springy aidPRENE foam midsole, synthetic mesh upper, wavy panelling throughout and trademark Three Stripes branding to each side.


While Ultraboost hype has definitely subsided, Adidas’ first and foremost sock-like runner is still very much part of the brand’s footwear offering. The shoe features a knitted upper for comfort and breathability and a springy foam midsole for a cloud-like feel underfoot.

It’s not exactly breaking news now, but when it first launched in the mid-2010s, it marked a pivotal turning point in modern shoe design, and it’s still a fantastic piece of footwear today.

While the original Ultraboost looks a little dated, the updated Ultraboost Light features a number of subtle updates that make it feel a bit more current. A thick wedge of Ultraboost foam is still the star attraction, but there’s also lots of added detail on the upper, which is more in line with the maximalist directions sneakers have taken since the shoes’ initial launch.

Handball Spezial

To the untrained eye, the Handball Spezial looks much like the Samba and the Gazelle. After all, it’s another flat-soled, low-profile shoe with suede accents and Three Stripe branding to the sides. But while the Samba and Gazelle have their roots in football, the Handball Spezial owes its design to Germany’s handball courts instead.

What sets the Handball Spezial apart from its stablemates is that it’s yet to reach the same saturation point. It offers a similar aesthetic, but you’re unlikely to bump into multiple people wearing the same shoes if you decide to wander into town.

It’s also available in a dizzying range of striking colour combos, which makes finding a pair that speaks to you that little bit easier.

Terrex Free Hiker 2.0

The Free Hiker isn’t your average Adidas sneaker. This all-terrain bootie is part of the brand’s Terrex line, which is geared towards active pursuits in the great outdoors. It’s part sneaker, part hiking boot, blending the best of both to create something equal parts sporty, supportive, durable and practical.

The first Free Hiker was a runaway success. Granted, it would never be the first choice for professional mountaineers who spend their time scaling 8,000m peaks, but it filled a gap for casual hikers who needed something easy to wear, lightweight and easy on the eye.

Now, this updated version takes that winning formula and tweaks it a bit to make it even better, cementing it as the premier shoe in Adidas’ outdoor footwear fleet.

Paddy Maddison

Paddy Maddison is Ape's Style Editor. His work has been published in Esquire, Men’s Health, ShortList, The Independent and more. An outerwear and sneaker fanatic, his finger is firmly on the pulse for the latest trends, while always maintaining an interest in classic style.