A look at the best selling adidas sneakers
adidas’s name in the history of sneakers rings through decades and decades. In that time, we see some incredible releases and inspiring designs.
A catalog that deep makes putting this list together rather difficult (aka “fun”). But, we manage to cobble together a fairly comprehensive list of the best selling adidas shoes of all time.
In doing so, a few things are immediately clear. Primarily, this brand has a rich history by way of innovative designs and cultural relevance.
What is particularly astounding for adidas is how ahead of the curve so many of their products are. As it turns out, the Three Stripes hasn’t always been living in Nike’s shadow. On the contrary, the brand spends quite some time cultivating a following and growing it progressively.
Now, as you look through this list, you’ll notice a few things. The main aspect here is that all of the shoes we mention are what some consider to be “retro” or old school.
Well, when you’ve got such an expansive catalog, that’s pretty unavoidable. Check our list of the top ten adidas shoes.
Let’s kick things off with one of the kings of classic sneakers. The Superstar has been around for what feels like the entirety of the shoe game itself.
In 1969, the hoops world falls in love with the Superstar as the latest basketball sneaker from adidas. The brand drops these on the back of the Pro Model, a higher cut model.
Interestingly, all of the design details that make this shoe so wearable makes the perfect hoops shoe in the early 70s. Leather build on the upper adds durability, the rubber soles provide ample traction, and a modest helping of EVA makes for impact protection.
These are all of the traits that make it a banger off the court as well, The Superstar sits as more than one of the best selling adidas shoes of all time. It claims a spot on the list of sneakers from any brand.
You only need a few guesses to get this one right. The adidas Stan Smith is a legitimately unavoidable part of this list.
Historically, this shoe means quite a bit to its specific sport. When the Stan Smith drops, it debuts as the brand’s major answer to the needs of the pro tennis player.
Oddly enough, those needs mirror that of basketball players as well. The resulting design consequently boasts a few similar qualities. The leather upper is a bit more simplistic, accompanying minimalist design cues and an EVA midsole.
The Stan Smith comes about in an interesting time for tennis. Having seen some considerable growth in popularity, there was a growing number of sponsored athletes in the game.
The Stan Smith meets the game’s conservative visual requirements and somehow becomes an iconic silhouette in the process.
To put it mildly, the adidas Samba has a story-worthy history. Sneaker fans recognize the Samba as more of a functional soccer shoe. Though it has its roots in the sport, there’s more to it.
The Samba debuts back in 1950 as a performance shoe meant for soccer players, but it takes on new meaning in countries such as England. Here, the Samba is the shoe of choice for a group known as the “casuals.”
These are a collective of soccer fans who are passionate, rowdy, and loud. They eventually become a known nuisance among football fans but manage to avoid being caught thanks to disguises that make them seem like “dandies” or well-off people.
The Samba, black leather and all, is a big part of this disguise. It also became one of the best selling adidas shoes of all time thanks to its leather build and usually Gum outsole.
The adidas LA is something of a surprise on this list for some. The brand is known more so for its strong collection of 90s adidas shoes. But, the LA model’s 1984 debut was just as important to its history, making it one of the best selling adidas shoes of all time. Like many adidas releases, this sneaker aims to break some 80s trends.
Moreover, it’s looking to set a few as well. In that light, the key feature of this design is an adjustable cushion system which operates via pegs on the midsole.
This model is popular through history for the same reason as other old-school adidas shoes. The minimalism translates over time.
Everyone loves a crisp upper and grippy sole. After all, that’s the foundation of just about any top-tier sneaker.
To add on to that, the adidas Stockholm features a colorway that is a shout out to the Swedish flag. This only adds to its overall appeal, making it an easy seller.
In a more modern context, it’s easy to see why this model would continue to sell well. The combination of colors on the upper are among the more popular looks for any shoe.
This shoe could be what set the precedent for the modern adidas runner. The Trim Tab looks and feels more like a casual sneaker, one you’d cop for a night out. In fact, the build comes with that sort of purpose in mind.
But, there’s a particular design feature that separates it from the non-sports crowd. The midsole here makes good use of Polyurethane, making for a surprisingly stable and shock-absorbent cushioning system.
This sort of character makes the Trim Tab an originator of some of the best selling adidas running shoes as well. It may not be the perfect companion for a run at you local park these days.
Nonetheless, this design seems to inspire a ton of the more elite functional models we see from adidas today. And, of course, it’s got a frame and colorway choice that is pretty easy on the eyes as well.
The adidas Gazelle is a relatively early example of the brand’s mastery of running sneakers. This shoe earns a reputation more for how affordable and dynamic it is as a style item these days.
The array of color choices, most of which are bold in their finishes, makes the Gazelle something of a visual stunner. The most notable iteration of this sneaker is the one we all know it for: Blue Suede.
This colorway persists as one of the brand’s top sellers among any shoe because it also appeals to those of us who aren’t shoe fanatics. It’s very similar to models such as the Superstar and Stan Smith in this way. The appeal is universal rather than niche.
The choice to go with suede for this shoe is an interesting one for adidas. Early on, this isn’t exactly a home run of a material pick. Suede is a respectable durability option, but not quite as popular more synthetic choices in the 60s.
When the shoe debuts in 1968, that story changes. The release of the Gazelle just happens to foreshadow the arms race of suede uppers among running shoe designers in the 1970s and 80s.
Releasing back in 1972, this sneaker rarely receives much mention. The adidas SL72 is a rare name in discussions on this very topic due to its low profile status. In totality, it’s a bit of an underwhelming build. Synthetic base, suede overlays, it’s all fairly standard.
And yet, it stands as one of the best selling adidas shoes of all time. Some of that has to do with the more underappreciated design qualities. For instance, the toe area.
Just below the first layer of overlays is a furry suede section. An educated guess would suggest this was something of an attempt at a mudguard. The traction is another impressive addition here.
It’s fairly grippy, even today. Back when it debuts, that outsole leads the charge in the market’s collection of elite traction models. The synthetic base also makes for a durable shoe with a versatile color profile.
This is the sort of thinking and design that goes into similar shoes, such as the adidas Haven.
The Italia model mirrors other old-school adidas silhouettes in its reasons for popularity. Historically, it debuts back in the 1960s. The adidas Italia becomes so popular that it becomes to primary shoe of Olympians during the Games in Rome.
Now, a couple thing are noteworthy when considering these early designs. Before the 1990s, sneaker collecting wasn’t really a major marketing presence. The sort of efforts you see today, making sneaker collection-friendly is far from the case back in the earlier days.
Instead, there is a focus on the opposite. For most consumers, purchasing a sneaker means you’re buying something you’re going to keep for years to come.
In that light, shoes like the Italia come with hard-wearing designs. The combination of materials and durable construction add to a shoe’s longevity. It’s also what makes the Italia so popular among both Three Stripes fans and sneakerheads in particular.
The Forrest Hills is a slightly newer model than some of the others on this list. Nonetheless, there’s plenty to explain its popularity. This is yet another tennis model, one of many that adidas claims. Of course, each one of those releases takes the example of the Stan Smith, the OG tennis shoe.
But, models such as the adidas Forest Hills also stand alone to some degree. When adidas initially begins experimenting with the tennis shoe, there are few risks in their efforts. After all, this is a notably conservative sport and the better call was always to, if you will, keep it between the lines.
In a bit of a contrast to that, the Forest Hills design comes with some eye-popping characteristics. The insole is reportedly in a ‘space-proven’ material. The sole is in a whopping 246-gram cup style build. Both of these features are, at the time, trailblazers in tennis sneaker tech.
The shoe takes its name from the US Open location in Queens, New York. Fortunately for diehard Three Stripes fans, this shoe also returns to us this year as a retro drop. The classics never quite die, do they?
It’s odd to have the modern adidas catalog as honorable mention on any list. Yet, this is a unique situation. The brand’s history in the sneaker game is so deep that there are enough OG models for us to talk about for ages.
But, because we go over those above already, it’s worth noting that the brand has plenty to be happy about in the present day as well. The spirit of innovation and considerate design that we see with the older models is very prevalent in the most recent crop of adidas releases.
The Ultra Boost plays a pivotal role in pushing the envelope when it comes to runners. The NMD model is in a rare category of shoes that can take away from the Jordan hype train. The list goes on and on, but it reveals something quite telling.
Putting together a list of the best selling adidas shoes of all time shows that there is an air of consistency in the brand’s design philosophy. From the early days of suede and synthetics to the current stock of Primeknit and Boost, the Three Stripes continue to push forward.
Of course, there are concerns on the horizon. The Boost cushioning works wonders for some, but there are complaints from some consumers. The material, though elite in its build, creates an allegedly harmful energy return. Then, there’s the somewhat fickle nature of knit uppers, often sacrificing durability for the sake of style.
But, we mention those concerns only to remain realistic. It’s worth noting that they’re a very small minority in the grand scheme of things and pale in comparison to all of the progress adidas has made.
This list of the best selling adidas shoes of all time is going to get a whole lot longer soon enough.
If you are a fan of adidas, make sure to check out the best adidas UltraBOOST colorways right here.