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A pair of white sneakers with a gum sole like Adidas Sambas, made responsibly by COG.
03 Oct
A pair of white sneakers with a gum sole like Adidas Sambas, made responsibly by COG.

8 More Sustainable Alternatives to the Viral Adidas Samba Sneakers

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They may have been around since 1949, but lately, the Adidas Samba sneakers have blown up. Unfortunately, Adidas comes out as “Not Good Enough” on our directory, so there are more sustainable alternatives to the viral shoes that might better match your morals while still embodying the casual-cool style.

Why not just buy the originals?

Sportswear giant Adidas has been selling out sneakers for three-quarters of a century. Known most notably for its iconic Stan Smith sneakers, logo sweaters, tees, and sportswear, and worn by athletes and celebrities worldwide, there’s no denying the brand’s popularity. But how are its ethics?

Our directory places Adidas near the bottom with an overall rating of “Not Good Enough”. It has made some progress in sustainability since its inception in the 1940s, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. For example, it uses some lower-impact and recycled materials, but it’s not clear whether it’s on track to meet its greenhouse gas emissions target. It’s also relatively transparent, scoring 51-60% in the latest Fashion Transparency Index. And while it has some policies in place to protect workers and animals in its supply chain, there’s certainly room for improvement in these areas as well. It has also been linked to recent human rights violations in its supply chain, including ongoing cases of wage theft in Cambodia, which is a massive red flag and was part of the brand’s drop from “It’s a Start” in a recent rerating.

What is it about the Sambas, anyway?

The Sambas are second only to Stand Smiths in the history of Adidas’ best sellers, and for good reason. Categorised by their tasteful, low-profile silhouette and gum sole that makes them a staple style in everyone’s closet, the Sambas have been worn by footballers, celebrities, schoolkids, influencers, and everyone in between since their release.

They’ve seen a particularly impressive resurgence in the era of Y2K comebacks in recent years and have flooded social media this summer, gracing the feet of “Rihanna, Kendall Jenner, Kaia Gerber, Bella Hadid, Laura Harrier, Jennifer Lawrence, Katie Holmes, Zoë Kravitz, and so many more”, according to Who What Wear.

So, if you’re keen on the style that’s making splashes but prefer to support better brands treating people, the planet, and animals with the high standard of care they deserve, these alternatives to Adidas’ Sambas might do the trick. And remember to care for your sneakers so they can stay trendy in your own rotation for years to come.

Better brands making shoes like Adidas Sambas you’ll love

1. Club Sneakers (Puma)

2. Winton Sneakers (COG)

3. Campo Chromefree Leather Sneakers (Veja)

4. Off-White Gum Canvas (Cariuma)

5. SAMO Vegan Low Top Sneakers (Good Guys)

6. Origin x Reed Recycled Sneakers (LOCI)

7. Burelia Slim Vintage Toffee (Flamingos’ Life)

8. Matao Sneakers (Grounded People)

Editor's note

Feature image via COG, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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