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Ask Chris Black: Adidas Sambas Are Played Out. Any Alternatives?

Photo: Alix Rutsey

Chris Black has returned to the Strategist with a monthly column to answer all of your burning questions — from super-specific style predicaments and workout and tennis recs to foolproof host-gift ideas that will get you invited back to the beach house.

Thanks to the TikTok fashion girlies, Adidas Sambas are sold out and played out. What are some alternatives for strolling around Italy this spring?

This one hits close to home. As a lifelong Nike devotee, I came to the Samba late after years of agonizing over changing my allegiances. The Wales Bonner collaboration was the push I needed — perfect colorways and nice details. I bought them all. Now I have a closetful and am suffering a little bit with the oversaturation you speak of. So let’s dive into some cool, wearable alternatives. Don’t worry, I won’t recommend Veja.

This is the best underrated Adidas style — low profile, comfortable enough, and great colors. The Gazelle is next up, but the Tobacco has a slimmer profile that I prefer. The big-pants and small-shirt set hasn’t found these yet.

These have been around forever. They were a Champs Sports classic when I was in high school. Thanks to the Olsen twins, they have seen a nice resurgence for women. M-K and Ashley blasting cigs in head-to-toe The Row with a clean pair of gray 574 sneakers is simply a great look. Beats the hell out of the 550, beloved by the obnoxious matcha-latte and AirPods Max–with-stickers crowd.

You’ve probably seen the Maison Margiela version of this classic silhouette. I just can’t pay for designer sneakers when they so closely resemble the much cheaper original. Obviously, these are not going to be done in premium materials or last as long, but for $100, who cares? These never go out of style.

Are chore coats done? What’s a spring jacket that won’t look like a bad Instagram ad?

I haven’t heard the theory that chore coats are done, and I would disagree. A good chore coat is a true classic and can be worn in most situations. I have a brown suede version I wear from Drake’s often. That being said, I will offer some alternatives.

This Army-style fatigue jacket from EG is the perfect weight and style for spring. The olive color is as versatile as black or navy, and there are enough pockets to leave the tote bag at home.

This is just a dumb, simple, easy jacket. No frills, no bells and whistles. It’s unlined, it feels casual and cool, and it’s made of linen and cotton, a blend that will carry you into summer. You can’t fuck this up.

Lemaire is one of my favorite brands. It can get a little “flowy” at times, but those pieces are easily avoidable. The brand is especially great when it takes on workwear. This jacket is simple, and the hidden buttons give it a little upmarket refinement.

We must expand past the traditional jacket convention and venture into heavier shirts that serve the same purpose. This wool CPO from Stüssy comes in black, but I am partial to the more fun Lime flavor. A great, appropriately warm, well-priced option. You can even layer underneath it if need be.

My brother is turning 30 this month, and I’m at a complete loss as to what to get him. What are some non-corny gifts to celebrate the milestone?

Thirty is pretty big. Life starts to get real! I hope he has a 401(k).

A beautiful writing instrument is a great gift. You can do a custom engraving, it will last forever, and refills are cheap. He will use this to take notes, write letters, and hopefully endorse some big checks before depositing.

A nice suitcase is invaluable; it makes traveling more pleasant. I have had a few Rimowa cases forever, and they are practical and worth every penny. Go for a classic aluminum Cabin and he will not be disappointed. Make sure to get his initials on the luggage tag. They can be foil-stamped for free!

Photo: Retailer

Maybe your brother is an aspiring shutterbug or just wants to take some good photos. The Ricoh GR III is the perfect compact digital camera. The images are sparkling and crisp, and it slips into a pocket easily.

Part of being an adult is having a nice wallet; the beat-up brown leather Fossil ain’t gonna cut it. If he isn’t ready for a slim card holder, the Bottega billfold will handle all of his credit cards, receipts, and punch cards from his preferred smoothie emporium. You can go with black, or the colors are fun and will age nicely.

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Ask Chris Black: Sambas Are Played Out. Any Alternatives?