Can you distinguish an adidas Samba from a Campus, Gazelle or Spezial?

With this straightforward guide, you’ll be able to recognize them at a glance!


Footwear fashion in the past year has seen a powerful resurgence of classic silhouettesessential models that have shaped the brand’s history, marking a joyful return to its roots. Models like Gazelle, Campus, Samba, and Spezial have made a comeback, completing the looks of those who appreciate simple yet refined style.

However, at first glance, distinguishing between different adidas sneakers can be challenging for non-experts. This guide will help you choose and immediately recognize them.

Here’s a brief overview of the main differences in terms of design, materials, and origin.

adidas Gazelle.

adidas Gazelle

Design: Their clean and minimalist silhouette is characterized by a wedge shape, opening at the base and narrowing towards the tip, almost flattening. This feature makes them particularly recognizable, especially compared to Campus, which has a slightly rounded toe. The adidas Mexicana, often considered its twin, born during the 1968 Olympics in Mexico, shares a similar appearance.

Upper: The Gazelle’s upper is generally made of suede or smooth leather, depending on the version and color.

adidas Gazelle

Colors: Usually, the stripes contrast in color with the upper, adding an eye-catching visual element. Colors can range from vibrant tones like blue, red, and green, but all will have the three contrasting stripes.

Sole: The Gazelle‘s sole is relatively thin, contributing to a sleek and casual appearance in line with its streamlined silhouette.

adidas Gazelle

History: Launched in the ‘60s as lightweight training shoes, the reasons for their creation remain unknown, with some speculating they were designed for football.

Read Also: Why have adidas Gazelles suddenly become so desirable?

adidas Campus.

adidas Campus

Design: With a robust and wider silhouette compared to other adidas models discussed here, the design of adidas Campus perfectly reflects its original purpose: basketball. The distinctive rounded and slightly bulging toe shape creates a solid, structured, and bolder look.

Upper: The Campus’s upper is wider and thicker compared to other adidas models, always made of leather with suede details. Some versions feature side reinforcements for added durability.

adidas Campus

Colors: Dark green, dark blue, Bordeaux, with contrasting stripes in neutral colors like black and white.

Sole:The Campus sole is generally thicker than other models, either gum or white.

adidas Campus

History: Introduced in the ‘70s as basketball shoes, it became an icon of urban style in the ‘80s and one of the most beloved models in the Hip Hop scene of that era.

adidas Samba.

adidas Samba

Design: The Samba stands out for its elongated and tapered shape, with a slightly rounded toe. Unlike Gazelle, the Samba’s silhouette doesn’t flatten at the end, remaining slightly rounded. This, coupled with the particularly robust yet thin rubber sole, makes it a recognizable shoe at first sight.

Upper: The OG model features premium, shiny leather, never suede, with suede details.

Colors: The Samba is known for basic colorations with contrasting stripes, such as off-white with black stripes or black with white stripes.

adidas Samba

Sole: The sole is always thin, though particularly structured and robust. It can be dark brown or gum.

History: Born in the ’50s as an indoor football shoe, the composition of the upper and sole was designed for icy terrains and less favorable conditions, faced by German football players. While also worn as lifestyle sneakers, Samba maintains a more pronounced sporty connotation compared to Gazelle and Campus.

adidas Handball Spezial.

adidas Handball Spezial

Design: The Spezial is characterized by its low and flexible silhouette, meaning the upper extends relatively little beyond the ankle. The toe is generally rounded, slightly flattening towards the end. These details give the shoe a light and sporty appearance, typical of sports models from the ‘70s.

Upper: Made of suede, the upper often featuring perforated or embroidered details that add a distinctive touch to the design. It’s important to note the perforated “embroidery” surrounding the toe.

adidas Handball Spezial

Colors: Original colorations were often characterized by classic and sober combinations, such as navy blue, white, red, or black. Over the years, various color variations and special collaborations have been introduced, expanding the range of available options.

Sole: The sole is often rubber, providing robust traction. The profile shows a crescendo from the toe that widens towards the heel, following the silhouette and creating movement.

adidas Handball Spezial

History: Originally designed for handball players in 1979, the Spezial’s design aimed to provide stability and grip on indoor surfaces used for handball practice. Over the years, the sneaker gained popularity outside sports environments, becoming an icon of retro streetwear.

Now you’re ready to choose the adidas model that suits your personality best. Take a look at our selection online and in-store by clicking here!